Upmarket trends in South Korea reflect an ever growing affluent Middle Class. Imports have made their mark in recent years eroding Korea's domestic car makers up scale market dominance. Hyundai-Kia has noted this trend.
Chosun Ilbo notes...
The Hyundai [Kia] Automotive Group is on the warpath against Toyota, Ford, Chrysler and Peugeot. Hyundai plans to develop new models and allow consumers to test-drive both them and competing imported models to respond to a sharp increase in sales of import cars in Korea. Hyundai has invited 63 consumers, 30 of them members of a car fanatic club, to its Namyang Research Center on Friday so they can test-drive Hyundais and their competitors. It is the first such event held by a Korean automaker.
The emphasis is on larger sedans equipped with engines exceeding 3,000 cc. The new Grandeur [Azera in the U.S. SEE PHOTO] TG 3.8 is to compete with Toyota's Lexus ES350, Ford's Five Hundred and Chrysler's 300C. The Grandeur TG is said to be the most advanced in terms of design and performance among Hyundai models so far and has replaced the Sonata as the firmÂs new cash cow this year, with sales of W1.1519 trillion (US$1=W951) in the first half, accounting for 8.3 percent of Hyundai's total sales.
We focused capacity on developing the new Grandeur TG so it can directly compete with Toyota's Lexus ES350 Hyundai Motor vice chairman Kim Dong-jin said.
The Lexus ES350 is a bestseller, topping the list of imported cars here. Its engine displacement is lower than the GrandeurÂs but it has more horse power. Chrysler's 300C shares major parts with Mercedes-Benz's E-Class models and is in competition with the Grandeur in the U.S., while Ford's Five Hundred has an engine with over 3,000 cc but is more affordable than the Grandeur and more spacious.
As for mid-sized sedans, the Hyundai Sonata NF 2.4 is to compete with the Honda Accord 2.4 and Ford Mondeo 2.0 and among diesel cars, the Sonata 2.0 diesel is to compete with the Peugeot 407 HDi. We will survey consumers who take part in the test-run and use the result for internal marketing activities, a Hyundai spokesman says.
Menahile, Kia's Cee'd launched in the European market on Wednesday benchmarks the VW Golf. Kia's plant in Slovakia, to be completed in December, is to manufacture the three-door, five-door and wagon Cee'd for the European market. Kia Motors is putting top priority on improving its brand image and price models to match its enhanced product quality, Kia CEO Cho Nam-hong said.