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Hyundai banks on new Tucson SUV to revive China deliveries

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 11:49
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Hyundai Motor is banking on a revamp of its best-selling Tucson sport utility vehicle to tap rising demand in the compact crossover segment and boost flagging sales in China, its largest market.

[SEOUL] Hyundai Motor is banking on a revamp of its best-selling Tucson sport utility vehicle to tap rising demand in the compact crossover segment and boost flagging sales in China, its largest market.

South Korea's largest automaker seeks to deliver 570,000 of the SUV overseas in 2016, the Seoul-based company said in an e- mailed statement, compared with 540,053 vehicles last year. The model, which will compete with Ford Motor's Escape and Volkswagen AG's Tiguan, will be produced at Hyundai's factories in Korea, China and Europe.

The overhaul comes as Chairman Chung Mong Koo is forecasting the combined deliveries at Hyundai and Kia Motors in 2015 to increase at the slowest pace in nine years. The Tucson last year accounted for 11 per cent of Hyundai's total passenger vehicle sales - a bigger proportion from five years earlier of 7 per cent.

"Hyundai will be able to lift the overall lagging sales in its major markets like the US and China" with the new Tucson, said Shin Chung Kwan, an analyst at KB Investment & Securities Co. "Hyundai will also be able to take advantage of growing demand for compact SUVs and bigger vehicles." Hyundai shares rose as much as 3.4 per cent to 181,500 won in Seoul trading as of 12:07 pm, heading for its highest closing price since Dec 9. The benchmark Kospi index rose 1.6 per cent.

In addition to the 2.0 liter diesel engine, which offers an improved mileage of 15.6 kilometer per liter, the new Tucson will provide a downsized 1.7 liter diesel engine, the company said. Designed under the 'Fluidic Sculpture 2.0' theme, the vehicle will keep its hexagonal grille and add bolder lines. The vehicle will be priced from 23.4 million won (US$20,700) to 29.2 million won in South Korea.

Since it was first introduced in 2004, the Tucson has sold almost 4 million units worldwide, taking its place as Hyundai's best-selling SUV model in the last decade. Of the 4 million, Hyundai sold 412,229 Tucsons in the US and little more than a million units in China over the last decade, the company said.

Hyundai's sales in China declined 5.7 per cent for the first two months of the year, even as industrywide deliveries rose 16 per cent, according to company and China Passenger Car Association data.

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