The South Korean automaker, the world’s fifth largest when bundled with affiliate Kia Motors, is ramping up for the approaching March unveiling – during the Geneva motor show – of its upgraded Tucson/ix 35 sports utility vehicle.
This will be the first major refresh for the model since it was unveiled as a second generation back in 2009 and makes part of the masterplan designed to revive slowing sales increases in crucial regions such as Europe and the United States – where SUV sales are increasingly strong. The debut is becoming a key asset to the company, with analysts and industry experts believing the South Korean automaker’s flagship Sonata sedan had a slow start last year in the US and Korea. The company is also under pressure from Japanese rivals, which have been continuously buoyed in recent months by the depreciating value of the yen currency. “The new model should help lift Hyundai sales, but market conditions are tough now,” comments Ryu Yen-wha, an analyst at IM Investment & Securities.
In 2014 Hyundai saw its market share falling in both Europe and the United States, with analysts now believing the company should invest in the introduction of new crossover models – a category especially popular now as global oil prices tumble. In the US, for example, Hyundai only managed to soar one percent last month, while the overall market jumped 14%, buoyed by demand for SUVs and pickup trucks. Tucson – called ix35 in other markets – is a compact SUV and is the carmaker’s No. 1 model in western Europe and close to the top positions in China, the United States and South Korea, the company’s top three markets.