Because of intense pressure from rivals in South Korea and international markets, the automaker is readying a major refresh for two of its key models, but industry insiders predict the new models to be too conservative for international tastes.
Because of free trade deals, US, Japanese and European rivals have been making huge gains on the local South Korean market, eating away Hyundai-Kia’s local market share. To better fight the pressure, the company aims to launch a new, significantly redesigned version of its Genesis large car as early as next month, while a refreshed Sonata mid-sized sedan would come early next year.
“The two new models are the first to reflect Hyundai’s more moderated version of its design language, and are key to energizing its growth,” said Sang Alexander Koo, a professor and former designer with Hyundai’s affiliate Kia. “While the new Sonata will help embrace conservative consumers, it will not have as much impact as the current model did… The new Sonata could draw as much a divisive view as the current model. Some will say the change is weak and others may like it because it’s more moderate,” Koo said.
The new models would also arrive in a key period for both Hyundai and Kia, as the South Korean automakers re mulling to reset their dented reputation after a massive recall in the United States and an embarrassing confession that their highly regarded fuel mileage statements were a bit exaggerated on at least a million cars.