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 |  Mar 26 2012, 6:32 PM

It made quite a big splash in re-designed 2012 form, not only garnering the prestigious North American Car of the Year title, but also proving quite a hit with shoppers in the compact segment.

Now, Hyundai has released official information regarding features and equipment for the car’s sophomore season, though updates are somewhat low key for 2013 after last year’s sweeping changes.

A new color, Atlantic Blue, has been added to the roster, while the base GLS with a manual gearbox gets a higher level of standard equipment (essentially last year’s Comfort Package). This includes standard air conditioning, telescopic steering wheel, tinted glass, cruise control and 16-inch steel wheels.

On the higher trimmed Limited, a power driver’s seat with standard lumbar has been added, while Dual zone automatic climate control now forms part of the Technology Package option.

As per its debut season, the 2013 Elantra is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque. Offered with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transaxle, Hyundai says this motor is capable of delivering 40 miles per gallon on the open road, as well as Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) status (a 145 hp version of this engine is rated at Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle status in California, Oregon and several North East states).

With gas currently selling for around $4.00 per gallon, Hyundai is betting that this year, more and more Americans will be drawn to the idea of  compact size vehicles with high feature content that deliver decent fuel mileage, cars very much like the current Elantra.

 |  Feb 21 2012, 11:32 AM

Hyundai‘s U.S. CEO John Krafcik has said that “because the brand resonates with families,” and feels “this is a segment where we have the lowest market penetration,” company product planning, at least in the short term, is focused on crossovers, especially seven-seater CUVs which seem to be the hottest thing going right now.

As a result, the possibility of a Hyundai van or pickup isn’t something that’s likely in the cards. That said, given that Hyundai and sister company Kia are attempting to differentiate their lineups to avoid stealing sales from each other, there’s a better chance of the latter introducing a truck, as Kia attempts to become a bit more of a “niche” brand with sportier and slightly more off-beat product offerings. Kia isn’t entirely a stranger to trucks, having unveiled a mid-size concept back in 2004 called the KC-4 Mojave (shown above).

However, due to shrinking demand for smaller trucks and fluctuating gas prices, the Mojave was left stillborn. Nonetheless, with the recently unveiled utility themed Soulster concept creating a buzz and Kia more firmly established as a legitimate player in the U.S. volume vehicle segment, could the idea of a pickup be floated again?

With the retirement of the Ford Ranger and fuel prices creeping upwards, the idea perhaps makes more sense now than it did in 2004, especially as today, Kia also has far more resources and engineering expertise at its disposal.

[Source: Pickup]

 |  Feb 07 2012, 2:15 PM

It’s no idle boast, especially as many lithium-batteries are said to have a maximum life span of around 7-8 years, yet until now Hyundai hadn’t released any specifics on its lifetime warranty for the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s battery pack.

As result, there’s been much speculation in regards to exactly what this battery warranty covers and doesn’t cover, though Hyundai, in an attempt to address these rumors has finally set the record straight.

In a statement issued from the company, it declared that, “the Hyundai Lifetime Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee ensures that if the 2012 Sonata hybrid lithium-polymer battery fails, Hyundai will replace the battery and cover recycling costs for the old battery pack free of charge to the original owner. The coverage is not transferable, and does not apply to lease and commercial vehicles or vehicles serviced outside the U.S.”

Note how the above doesn’t mention the battery system’s integrated hardware, software and controllers. These are covered by a warranty, though in this case it’s the Sonata’s Powertrain warranty which is good for 10 years or 100,000 miles, which ever comes first.

Hyundai’s US CEO John Krafcik, has already stated that Hyundai is able to offer the battery warranty because after extensive durability testing, failure rates for the battery system have proved to be minimal.

That said, if owners do experience major battery failure on their Sonata Hybrids, they might want to consider the car’s mileage and condition before looking to cash in on the warranty program, as depending on the circumstances, it could still work out to be quite expensive.

[Source: Car & Driver]

 |  Feb 06 2012, 5:45 PM

In the auto business, 2011 proved to be the year of the Koreans; both Hyundai and affiliate Kia sold a record number of vehicles, while their shares outperformed those of other automakers, including the likes of heavyweights such as General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen.

That said, some of the sales in new vehicles from the Koreans actually cannibalized others within their ranks, notably the Kia Optima (K5 in South Korea), which after its latest redesign saw orders triple, though some of that came at the expense of Hyundai’s Sonata, which only saw demand increase by some 5.2 percent in the same period.

There’s every chance the same thing could happen again with Kia planning to launch the more upmarket K9, designed to go after the same customers as the Hyundai’s Genesis and Equus.

Frank Ahrens, a spokesman for Hyundai said the car-to-car rivalry between the two brands extends to all segments. Further complicating matters is the fact that although Hyundai and Kia are overseen by the same chairman (Chung Mong Koo) and share a development center, they are run as two separate companies and arch rivals at that.

There’s no question that Hyundai’s original 51 percent purchase of Kia Motors back in 1998 rejuvenated the brand and helped it grow into a purveyor of world-class vehicles with competitive prices. All the same, the companies need to sort out their differences now more than ever because it seems global competition is going to intensify in 2012 especially with Honda and Toyota returning to pre-disaster capacity.

This will likely mean Hyundai and Kia will need to develop a successful alignment strategy for their respective product lines, for example: focusing one brand on premium products and the other on volume sales. In doing so, they stand a greater chance of stealing sales from Japanese, American and European rivals instead of each other.

It seems that signs of greater product differentiation between Hyundai and Kia’s offerings are afoot; Kia’s European COO, Paul Philpott, said during a recent interview that “Hyundai will become the mainstream brand with Kia [functioning as] the sportier, dynamic little brother.”

[Source: Bloomberg]