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New Plant Announcement from Hyundai-Kia Soon?

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Last summer during a discussion with senior Hyundai management in Seoul, I asked “When can we expect to see a third plant for Hyundai and or Kia in the United States?” The response was “A third plant will be necessary when Hyundai and Kia sell 900,000 per year in the USA.”

In 2010, Hyundai sold 538,228 cars and light trucks in the USA and Kia sold 356,496 cars and light trucks. That is a total of 874,496 cars and light trucks for these two fast-growing brands. That number is also close enough for us to hypothesize that an announcement for a third Hyundai or Kia plant in the USA should be forthcoming.

Two USA Plants Already at or Above Capacity: Clearly, Hyundai is pushing the capacity of their Montgomery, Alabama plant. With the Sonata Mid-Size Sedan setting all-time sales records and the newly launched Elantra promising to sell very well, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama is out of capacity even at its increased capacity planning volume of 400,000 units. Hyundai has announced it is importing Elantras from Korea to meet extraordinary demand in the USA. Kia is adding a third shift to its West Point, Georgia plant producing Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe crossover sport utility vehicles.

Rumor – Mississippi Hyundai-Kia has likely squeezed as many concessions as possible from Alabama and Georgia to support its two plants there.  A logical next choice still within range of Hyundai and Kia suppliers is Mississippi.  With a third plant in the offing, any state would be willing to offer substantial concessions for the investment dollars and jobs a large scale plant inevitably generates.


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New C-Class Entries Do Not Disappoint

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Over the years, most Americans have considered small cars penalty boxes they were forced to drive because they couldn’t drive anything bigger or better. The Big Three concurred with their small cars designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator driver, at the lowest cost and at the lowest price. No wonder the Pinto/Bobcat, Vega, Omni/Horizon, Escort/Lynx, Cavalier/Sunbird, Cobalt/G5 never resonated. They sold in relatively large numbers because they had to to help their manufacturers meet CAFE requirements, but rarely did a buyer purchase one out of desire or lust. The Japanese partially solved the small car equation offering Civic, Corolla, Mazda3, Lancer, Impreza and more recently the Kizashi. All were desirable small cars with great quality offered at affordable prices. With their latest offerings, the Koreans are fully engaged with the new Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra. So, the small car – C-Class – segment is now ready for more real competition this time from Chevrolet, Hyundai and Ford.

Over the past couple of months, I have driven three new high volume C-Class cars that redefine the small car category in the United States if not the world. The Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus will each be a big seller and each has its positive attributes. They are within inches of each other in size and take each takes the word “cheap” out of the definition of a small car. The missing entrant in this bunch is the upcoming Honda Civic that will evolve for the 2012 model year, but while we’ve seen the car, the official specs and fuel economy data have not yet been released.

Dimensions of New C-Class Cars


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Hyundai Sonata Ad for AutoPacific President's Award

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If you have been watching sports on TV for the past couple of weeks you cannot have missed the Hyundai spot for Sonata winning AutoPacific’s first-ever President’s Award. Hyundai won the award going away with the highest score ever recorded.
Watch and enjoy…


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Kia Optima To Challenge Premium Mid-Size Leaders

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Kia Becomes Instantly Relevant in the Premium Mid-Size Segment The new Kia Optima is set to challenge the top of the premium mid-size car category with its 3rd generation 2011 model year version due out by the end of 2010. The Optima is arguably the most strikingly gorgeous cars in the class. It looks upscale, elegant, sporty and highly desirable.
Optima is a sibling of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata that set records in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. The Sonata became the top scoring vehicle EVER in AutoPacific’s research and won AutoPacific’s first-ever President’s Award. Part of the reason Sonata won was because of its aggressive styling which was important to its buyers and highly satisfying to them. Over time, though, the swoopy Sonata styling may wear a bit thin even as it sells over ten thousand cars a month. Optima looks just as modern and contemporary, but more elegant. Optima may have more legs. We’ll have Optima’s VSA results in April next year.
Optima Sales Will Increase Kia Volumes by Over 50,000 Units Per Year Optima will be largely incremental to Kia in the USA. All previous Optima sedans have been cyphers – not really competitive. Just good, basic value transportation. This new Optima moves Kia into the big leagues. Kia will be fighting with the rest of the world for Optima output so its volume cannot match that of Hyundai with its Sonata production here in the USA, but selling 120,000 Optimas a year is not out of the question.


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2010 Hyundai Tucson: The Urban Cruiser?

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I’m rarely one to toot my own horn, but I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way: there’s a bit of me in the brand-new 2010 Hyundai Tucson. Once upon a time, not that long ago, I was a product planner at Hyundai who was tasked with finding and developing a new concept direction for the second generation Tucson. The first Tucson, which debuted for the 2005 model year, was a decent if uninspiring small crossover SUV, and Hyundai really wanted to hit the second generation out of the park.


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Driving the 2011 Hyundai Sonata – AutoPacific President's Award Winner

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Does the 2011 Sonata Deserve the AutoPacific President’s Award – Yes
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Driving the Sonata We just finished a week driving a 2011 Sonata Limited priced at about $28,500 fully loaded. Is the car as perfect as its early owners indicate? Yes, and no. The car looks great, but styling is very subjective. It looks different from other cars on the road. It turns heads. It is distinctive. While styling is rated almost perfect by its early buyers we wonder how it will resonate with more conservative buyers who are not risk taking early adopters.
The interior is very nicely appointed. The Sonata we drove has the wine colored interior package. It feels very upscale. Tasteful. Hyundai has done a excellent job on ergonomics. The controls fall easily to hand and are easy to understand. The fonts are mostly big enough. At night the controls and instrumentation are tastefully lit by ice blue lighting. Very nice.
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4-Door Coupe Styling Doesn’t Hurt Practicality One of the things we value most highly when living with a car is how easy it is to get into and out of. We were concerned that the swoopy styling of the Sonata would hurt ingress/egress. It doesn’t. The car is easy to get into and out of. The cabin is very spacious and the rear seat is comfortable even with its fast sloping roof.


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2011 Hyundai Sonata Wins AutoPacific President's Award

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We knew the 2011 Hyundai Sonata is a good new car, but we did not know how good. Luckily, the 2011 Sonata was launched early in 2010 during the time period AutoPacific‘s 2010 New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey was in the field. We were able to add the new Sonata to the 2010 survey to see how this newcomer would compare with 2010 model year competition. Nine-hundred seventy-five owners of the new Sonata responded to AutoPacific’s survey on our VehicleVoice survey site.
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The results were astonishing. The Sonata scored the highest ratings ever in the 14 year history of AutoPacific’s vehicle satisfaction research. As a 2011 model year car, the Sonata was not eligible for AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Award, but we felt it was only right to recognize the Sonata in some way. Hence, AutoPacific is awarding the 2011 Hyundai Sonata with its first-ever President’s Award.

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Press Release: AUTOPACIFIC GIVES THE ALL-NEW SONATA A THOROUGH TEST AND FIRST-EVER PRESIDENT'S AWARD

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Hyundai_2010_Sonata_PA.jpgTUSTIN, Calif. (June 10, 2010) – AutoPacific today announced its President’s Award for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. This first-ever honor is the result of a special analysis of Hyundai’s all-new 2011 Sonata that adds consumer credibility to all of the positive accolades recently bestowed upon Hyundai’s most important vehicle to date.
“With all we have seen and read about the 2011 Sonata, AutoPacific felt that it was necessary to put this vehicle to a unique test,” said George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, which has researched driver satisfaction since 1997. “Over the years, we have seen several important vehicles come to market that have attempted to redefine their brands. They are often launched with a considerable amount of hype, but then fail to deliver a customer experience that truly satisfies.”
With the same methodology that AutoPacific has utilized since it began satisfaction research, 975 drivers of the all-new 2011 Sonata rated their cars in 48 separate categories ranging from the basics of comfort and convenience, to performance and environmental friendliness.
“Quite frankly, we were blown away by the results,” said Peterson. “The sheer magnitude of the 2011 Sonata’s score made recognition necessary. With a score 775 out of 1,000, the Sonata exceeded everyone’s expectations. The Sonata’s unique styling was rated almost perfect and was a key driver to its overall superior performance in this research. Clearly, 2011 Hyundai Sonata drivers are extremely satisfied with their purchase.”
But the story does not end there. According to Peterson, these results are extraordinary from an historical perspective as well. “No vehicle has achieved a score of 775 before in our satisfaction research. The Sonata’s top score surpasses anything we have ever seen, including vehicles costing twice as much.”
“Consumer response to the all-new 2011 Sonata shows the strong appeal of Hyundai’s recipe of bold design, great quality, a segment-best 35 miles per gallon, and outstanding residual values,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “This first-ever AutoPacific President’s Award, recognizing the highest score on this survey that AutoPacific has ever seen, is an apt tribute to our California design team, our global engineering team and the 2,700 team members at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama for their fresh thinking and dedication in breaking the mold of the staid and boring mid-size car.”
AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area.
Additional information can be found on AutoPacific’s websites: www.autopacific.com and www.vehiclevoice.com.
CONTACTS:
Dan Hall dan.hall@autopacific.com 714.838.4234 or 800.576.AUTO
Deborah Grieb deborah.grieb@autopacfic.com 734.446.6940
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Our Sonata Test Car Gets Mistaken For a Mercedes-Benz

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Hyundai_2011_Sonata_flyer.jpgHyundai delivered a pearl white 2011 Sonata Limited to our office today for evaluation purposes. By now, you’ve seen the car’s standout styling and maybe even asked yourself if YOU could see yourself driving a Hyundai. One thing’s for sure, they have come a long, long way and their hits just seem to keep coming.
In any case, I took the car at lunch to run an errand at the store. Ten minutes later, I returned to the strikingly styled Hyundai to find this under the windshield wiper. Yes, you are reading that right: it’s a flyer for a local Mercedes-Benz service and repair shop. I looked around for any Mercedes-Benz vehicles nearby, and there was only one – a black GL450 SUV. Indeed, that was the only other car in sight that also had that flyer on its windshield.
In other words, the new Hyundai Sonata got mistaken for a Mercedes-Benz (probably the CLS)…by a representative of a Mercedes-Benz repair shop! If that isn’t ringing endorsement of the Sonata’s new duds, I don’t know what is.
One big difference between the Sonata and the CLS (other than many tens of thousands of dollars)…the Sonata actually has a big and spacious interior that you can easily get in and out of!


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2010 Hyundai Tucson Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact Crossover

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Hyu_10_Tucson.jpgThe freshly revised 2010 Hyundai Tucson is a dramatic departure from its predecessor, with expressive styling and the latest technology, while remaining true to Hyundai’s value proposition. Owners find this to be a very satisfying combination.
The Tucson is top rated (or tied for top rated) in a large number of attributes including: overall satisfaction, exterior size, exterior styling, power/acceleration, fuel economy, safety features and overall quality.
What a long way Hyundai has come! Well done.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.


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