Hyundai Motors unveils its subcompact SUV for Europe, South Korea and U.S.

It will release an electric version of the Kona next year.

On Tuesday, in efforts aimed at offsetting its falling sale of vehicles in China, Hyundai Motor launched its first subcompact sport utility vehicle (SUV) for advanced markets including the Europe, South Korea, and the United States.

The South Korean automaker disclosed it would soon follow up with an electric version of the Kona small SUV in 2018 and with a new larger SUV by 2020.

Hyundai is focusing on the SUV segment in order to tap the booming SUV market in the U.S.

With heightened political bickering between China and South Korea, the company is likely to miss its annual sales target this year. If it does, it will be the third time in a row. China is its biggest market.

Previously, Hyundai has sold subcompact SUVs only in emerging markets, thus losing out on the strong growth in the segment in Europe, South Korea and the United States.

As per IHS Automotive data, the subcompact SUV segment is a top-performing segment with an annual growth average of 46% year-on-year, from 2010 to 2016.

In its home country, the Kona, positioned just behind its Tucson compact SUV, will compete with Ssangyong Motor’s Tivoli, Renault’s QM3 and GM’s Trax.

As per a source, the company is targeting an annual production target of 135,000 Kona models in South Korea next year. It will shift the output of its lower-margined Accent brand to Kia Motors’ factory in Mexico.

Both, Kia Motors and Hyundai, are targeting an increase in global sales by 5% this year. Their combined sale however has fallen by 7% for the period of January to May 2017, due to slowing sales in China and the United States.

Seoul’s decision to deploy U.S. anti-missile system to contain noises made by North Korea has exacerbated its fall of vehicles sales in the country, where it already suffers from a lack of SUV line-ups and poor brand perception.

In the United States, Hyundai’s sales slumped by 4.8% with the U.S. safety regulator launching a probe into whether Hyundai and Kia recalled 1.7 million vehicles in a timely manner.

In its home country, its sales was were nearly flat so far.

The South Korean duo plan on rolling out full electric versions of the Kona in 2018, said a source familiar with the plan.


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