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(LEAD) Hyundai Kona part of carmaker's plan to bolster SUV lineup

All Headlines 14:11 June 13, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout; ADDS photo, details and background in paras 2-3, last para, sales targets in paras 7-8)

GOYANG, South Korea, June 13 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. on Tuesday unveiled its new subcompact SUV Kona as part of its plan to bolster its SUV lineup in coming years amid growing demand for recreational vehicles.

Faced with slowing sales in overseas markets, Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun has outlined its plan to add five new models by 2020 to its current SUV lineup composed of the Creta, Tucson, Santa Fe and Maxcruz models.

The five new SUVs include an all-electric Kona, a fuel cell car, a SUV larger than the Santa Fe and two smaller-sized crossovers, the company said.

"The global SUV market has grown by an average of 20 percent in the past seven years. In particular, global carmakers have recently jumped into the B segment SUV market for a greater share," Chung said in a press conference held for the Kona's world premiere.

Hyundai Motor's Kona SUV (Courtesy of Hyundai Motor) (Yonhap)

Instead of launching new SUV models in global markets, Hyundai completed a thorough market analysis and used "optimal" technologies in the Kona, he said.

From Wednesday, the Kona SUV mated with either a 1.6-liter gasoline turbo engine or a 1.6-liter diesel engine will go on sale in the domestic market. The models are fitted with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, Hyundai said.

The Kona is priced at between 19 million won (US$16,800) and 27 million won for domestic consumers.

The company said it will start the production of the Kona for export to Europe and the United States at its domestic plants in August and December, respectively.

Hyundai aims to export 41,000 units of the Kona to the two major markets this year and 150,000 units next year. In the domestic market, it targets to sell more than 26,000 Konas this year and 45,000 units next year.

Kona models equipped with a 1.0 gasoline turbo GDi engine and 1.6 gasoline turbo GDi engine will be available in Europe. The 1.6 diesel model is scheduled to be launched there next year. In the U.S., the 1.6 gasoline turbo GDi engine and a 2.0 gasoline MPi engine Konas will be sold, Hyundai said.

Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun answers questions from a reporter in a Q&A session following the company's world premiere event for the Kona SUV held at Hyundai Motor Studio in Goyang, just northwest of Seoul, on June 13, 2017. (Yonhap)

The B segment SUV market grew sharply over the past seven years, jumping to 4.64 million units sold in 2016 from 485,000 units in 2010. It is expected to grow 19 percent year-over-year to 5.54 million units this year, according to market research firm IHS Markit.

To absorb a rapidly growing demand for SUVs, Hyundai has decided to diversify its SUV lineup by launching a variety of SUV models, including a high-performance one, from the smallest A segment to the biggest E segment.

In the January-May period, Hyundai sold 1.82 million vehicles, down 6.5 percent from 1.95 million units a year earlier. Its overall sales fell 2.1 percent on-year to 4.86 million units last year.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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