Hyundai Motor, which together with affiliate Kia is used to controlling most of the home market has been recently feeling the pressure from foreign automakers and is now moving to tackle the threat.
In a rather unusual move for the Korean giant, the company moved to reveal ahead of the Friday start of the Busan Motor Show its two new sedans – the AG and the diesel version of the Grandeur (Azera).
While on a global scale the move would go unnoticed, in South Korea it shows that Hyundai has started to worry of the increases registered by foreign automakers, especially when it comes to the top premium carmakers like BMW and Audi.
“With the new models, Hyundai faces the challenge of winning back domestic customers, whom they have lost to imported carmakers,” BS Securities auto analyst Yang Hee-joon said. “The key is how to differentiate the AG from other large cars so that they don’t eat into each other’s sales.”
Imports in South Korea have been gaining sustained traction in recent years since free trade deals lowered import duties, with the market share owned by foreign automakers expected to at least double to around 20% by 2016, compared to 2012.
The new Grandeur Diesel is Hyundai’s first large diesel car designed for the home region, aimed at tackling a segment where the foreigners have been particularly successful lately.