Hyundai to launch new Sonata, Genesis models in U.S. in 2014


SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich., Nov 15 (Reuters) - Hyundai MotorCo will launch new versions of its Sonata andGenesis sedans and a hydrogen-fueled Tucson crossover in theUnited States in the first half of 2014, the automaker's topU.S. executive said on Friday.

The South Korea automaker is expected to unveil the Tucsonfuel-cell vehicle, which is already sold in Europe as the ix35,next week at the Los Angeles auto show, Hyundai Motor AmericaChief Executive John Krafcik told reporters at the company'stechnical center outside Detroit.

Krafcik said Hyundai plans through 2016 to build 1,000 ofthe Tucson fuel-cell vehicles, which are made on the same SouthKorean assembly line as the gasoline-powered model, but thecompany is prepared to build more if the demand is there.

Hyundai sees fuel-cell cars as combining the best attributesof gasoline-powered cars and electric vehicles, includinggreater driving range than EVs with a faster time to rechargethe car's battery.

Krafcik acknowledged, however, that fuel-cell technology isstill in its infancy and "there's no question theinternal-combustion engine will reign supreme for some time."

He said the 2015 Sonata will be introduced next April at theNew York auto show.

Krafcik called 2013 a "difficult" year for the company inthe U.S. market, with sales up only 2 percent through October,as capacity constraints have held the company back. He repeatedthe company's stance that there were no plans for Hyundai to addproduction capacity in North America.

He said the company's incentive spending so far this yearaveraged $1,370 per vehicle, the second-lowest rate in the U.S.industry, which he called a strong performance given Hyundai'solder vehicle lineup. The company's average transaction pricehas risen to $22,758 per vehicle, up from $22,683 last year.

Hyundai will cut Sonata production by 11 percent this yearat its plant in Alabama as the car is in its last year beforethe new version debuts, Krafcik said. The plant will producemore Elantra sedans instead.

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