Hyundai U.S. Sales to Top 700,000 Units in 2012 image

Despite Hyundai’s tight vehicle supplies, the company might see U.S. sales reach 700,000 units in 2012.

Since Hyundai Chairman Chung Mong-koo has capped production capacity globally, plants will need to squeeze any added output from the current production schedule. In 2011 the automaker sold 645,691 units in the U.S., up 20% from 2010.

“What (Chung) wants to do is assure we’re all focused on quality,” John Krafcik, head of Hyundai’s North American operations said. “When he is satisfied that we’ve achieved this steady state from which we can grow, then we’ll have some opportunity” for adding capacity.

Hyundai has a U.S. plant in Montgomery, Alabama, but affiliate Kia Motors also builds Hyundai cars at its factory in West Point, Georgia. The company will continue to focus on sales from fleet customers, like car rental companies, to retail customers. Although fleet sales are less profitable, they accounted for 10% of U.S. sales in 2011, the company planning to move that to as low as 5%, helping it shift as many as 100,000 sales to retail.

“We’re still seeing a lot of folks waiting to buy, but that waiting now seems to be reaching a point of breakage where they’ve got to buy. A lot of it depends on jobs and housing still, and unemployment continues to improve, which is great news,” declared Krafcik.