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(2nd LD) Hyundai, Kia to promote SUVs in Shanghai Auto Show

All News 17:01 April 19, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS details and background throughout)

SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's two biggest carmakers, plan to promote China-oriented crossovers at this year's Shanghai Auto Show, a move aimed at absorbing growing demand for sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) in the world's largest auto market.

In the 17th biennial auto show, open to the public from April 21-28, Hyundai Motor will debut the all-new ix35 and its sister company Kia will reveal the K2 Cross. The two are SUV models tailored from the outset to satisfy the needs of Chinese consumers, the companies said in statements.

The Shanghai event is held every two years and while it is not among the world's top five auto shows held annually in Detroit, Paris, Frankfurt, Geneva and Tokyo, carmakers converge to vie for a bigger share in the 28 million vehicle market.

During the press days from Wednesday to Thursday, carmakers initially unveiled a total of 1,400 kinds of vehicles in the biennial auto show.

New car sales in China jumped 15 percent last year to 24.4 million units from a year earlier helped by solid sales of luxury sedans and crossover SUVs. In particular, SUV sales soared 45 percent to 9.01 million units, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

But Hyundai and Kia suffered a 52 percent on-year decline in their combined vehicle sales last month in China at 72,032 units amid a diplomatic row over Seoul's decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea within this year.

Seoul and Washington said the THAAD system is purely aimed at countering missile threats from North Korea. But China has opposed the system's installation, arguing it could be used against it.

Hyundai's ix35 SUV (Courtesy of Hyundai Motor) (Yonhap)
Kia's K2 Cross SUV (Courtesy of Kia Motors) (Yonhap)

To win back its share in China, the two carmakers badly need to come up with new vehicles and more customized models this year.

The ix35 SUV will be sold in China in two versions later this year: one with a 1.4-liter gasoline turbo engine and the other a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter petrol mill, Hyundai said. The two models will be mated to either a seven-speed dual clutch transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission.

Kia also plans to launch the K2 Cross small crossover in the neighboring market later this month. The entry-level SUV is fitted with a 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter gasoline engine with a six-speed automatic or manual transmission sending power to the front wheels, it said.

Hyundai and Kia said they will display 19 and 20 models, respectively, at the motor show. The two together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales.

Hyundai's models include the localized version of the upgraded Sonata sedan which was launched in South Korea last month. Kia plans to unveil the Pegas compact sedan in a world premiere, with its launch date yet to be decided.

SsangYong's Tivoli Air diesel-powered SUV (Courtesy of SsangYong Motor) (Yonhap)

SsangYong Motor Co. has also joined the two bigger rivals to promote its SUVs in the world's biggest automobile market at the auto show.

SsangYong Motor, which is 72.85 percent owned by Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., plans to display four SUV models -- the compact Korando C, the small Tivoli, and the Tivoli Air (sold as the XLB overseas) gasoline and diesel SUVs -- at the show to increase its brand awareness and lure customers.

SsangYong said it is considering building an assembly line in China to meet "explosive" demand for small SUVs in the world's biggest automobile market.

To that aim, it signed a letter of intent with Shaanxi Automobile Group in October to study the feasibility for a joint venture in China.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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