WhenI was Internet Manager for a major car dealer, it was obvious to those of us on the front line of car sales that Hyundai was the primary up-and-comer in the competitive automotive industry. It wasn’t always that way. Over the last twelve years this Korean auto maker revamped a tarnished image. Hyundai cars used to be inexpensive with serious reliability issues. However, twelve years ago the company made a concerted effort to improve the quality of the cars it sold. The results have been dramatic.
A Remarkable Turnaround
Hyundai now receives awards for its cars’ reliability and design. Last year, consumers and experts alike were surprised when the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan was named 2009 North American Car of the Year.
Part of Hyundai’s success has been its new car warranty program, one of the best in the industry: a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hyundai also instituted a popular 5-year road side assistance program for all models. Those programs, combined with cutting-edge design and a larger line-up of models, has resulted in consumers flocking to this auto maker in large numbers.
Hyundai car sales in the U.S. are up 24 percent this year and are on pace to break 500,000 vehicles in annual sales for the first time ever. The company is considering an increase in U.S. production to help fill demand. More than a third of the Hyundai models sold this year in the U.S. were Sonatas. It builds the Sonata mid-sized sedan and the Santa Fe SUV at an Alabama plant that is producing vehicles at a maximum overtime rate.
Hyundai is not sitting idle amid huge success. Expect three new models to be unveiled later this year:
1) Sonata Hybrid: The first thing most buyers ask about hybrid vehicles are the fuel economy numbers. In this case, 37 mpg/city and 39 mpg/hwy.The other important feature of this new model is the fact that it uses the new lithium polymer battery. Benefits of this new battery system: lighter, runs cooler, and can be shaped for optimum packaging and design.
2) 2.0T: You get more power with less fuel, along with innovative design. Its 4-cylinder engine is turbocharged so performance is more like a 6-cylinder. Expect 274 horsepower and 34 mpg/hwy.
3) Equus: Who would have thought that Hyundai would be unveiling another luxury car? Expect a price tag of just $60,000 for this super luxury car that could easily be sold for tens of thousands of dollars more. Is Hyundai looking for another car of the year award?
I called around to Hyundai dealers in the San Francisco Bay Area and was told to expect the Sonata Hybrid and 2.0T to hit showroom floors in late September or early October. The Equus may be available as early as the beginning of December.