Carmakers Focus on Large SUVs at This Year's Seoul Motor Show

  • By Ryu Jung

    March 29, 2019 10:26

    Carmakers unveiled new models at a press sneak peek of the biennial Seoul Motor Show in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday, a day before its opening to the public.

    Large utility vehicles dominate this year's event, which runs until April 7, reflecting the recent shift in demand from sedans to SUVs, which now account for 50 percent of the market.

    A Hyundai staffer presents the carmaker's latest models at the Seoul Motor Show in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday.

    Hyundai offered a glimpse of the hybrid version of its new Sonata sedan, whose roof is covered by black solar panels.

    "Our latest Sonata sedan, which is set for release in June, is equipped with a solar roof which generates electricity and recharges the vehicle's battery even in parking mode," said the carmaker's vice president Lee Gwan-kook. "We expect its fuel efficiency to be improved enough to run 20 km per liter while reducing emissions."

    Its affiliate Kia seems determined to retake the top spot in the large SUV segment. It showcased a concept car for its improved off-road SUV called Mohave Masterpiece, which is expected to hit showrooms in the second half of this year.

    GM Korea showcased its large Traverse SUV and midsize pickup truck Colorado, which will be rolled out in the fall. GM Korea's president Kaher Kazem said it is reviewing to make its full size Tahoe SUV available in Korea to reinforce the lineup of large SUVs, in an apparent bid to counter the popularity of Hyundai's big Palisade SUV.

    Meanwhile, foreign carmakers also unveiled a wave of large SUVs. BMW's newest X7 SUV took center stage among nine other models showcased at the event. The seven-seater SUV is expected to go on sale in the second quarter in Korea.

    Mercedes-Benz unveiled a completely revamped version of its luxury GLE SUV, while Jaguar Land Rover showcased its popular Evoque compact SUV, which has undergone a complete makeover for the first time in eight years and is now more fuel efficient.

    Japanese carmakers seem to put a focus on a range of energy and cost-efficient vehicles including Toyota's premium brand Lexus's UX hybrid SUV, which can run 16.7 km per liter, and Nissan's completely revamped Altima midsize sedan, which comes with a quite affordable price tag in the W20 million range (US$1=W1,138).

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