Hyundai Unveils New Sonata

The new seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata was finally unveiled on Monday at COEX in Seoul. The car does not match horsepower of the previous model, the YF Sonata, but has a bigger body and is more fuel-efficient.

The price tag is being kept below W30 million (US$1=W1,077), reflecting anxieties about contracting sales of mid-size sedans.

Two-liter gasoline engine models are priced between W22.55 million and W28.6 million, and 2.4-liter models between W23.95 million and W29.9 million. That is about W200,000 lower than they had been led to expect when pre-booking began early this month.

The firm is well aware that there are many imported rivals priced in the region of W30 million.

Recent blows to its reputation have also affected the company's decision to keep the prices as low as possible.

Hyundai cars have not been faring well in recent brand power surveys and quality tests in the U.S., and here the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has raised suspicions whether the new Santa Fe is really as fuel-efficient as the company claims. It already had to lower its claims for the fuel economy of the new Sonata against advance hype.

Hyundai hopes to make up for these travails by achieving the sales target of 228,000 vehicles globally this year -- 63,000 at home and 165,000 abroad. The goal for next year is 338,000.

A company spokesman said it will be able to achieve next year's target easily since it plans to put the new Sonata in the Chinese market in the first half of next year and expects to sell some 120,000 units there.

In the same market segment, GM Korea has released new models like the Chevrolet and Malibu diesel, and Renault Samsung is planning to launch a new SM5 with a diesel engine. The Malibu diesel has already met this year's domestic sales target as 2,000 were sold within 15 days of its release.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 25, 2014 13:00 KST