AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The Kia K9, code named the KH, is Kia’s sister car to the Hyundai Equus and Genesis, and will be the brand’s first attempt at an upscale rear wheel drive sedan.
We get a full view of the K9 for the first time, out driving in what we assume is South Korea, instead of just spy photos.
Calling the K9 upscale seems warranted: It seems to be taking design cues from the German luxury car makers BMW and Mercedes. Based on the look we get in these videos, it seems like the K9 will be heavily related to the Hyundai’s Genesis and Equus sedans, though that is purely speculative. We’re guessing the K9 will be run by a 4.6-liter V8, which makes 385 hp sourced from the Genesis, or a larger 5.0-liter V8 that can produce as much as 429 hp.
“This all-new rear-wheel drive large sedan will definitely become the leading model of our lineup around the world, showcasing the best of the best of Kia,” Kia marketing executive Soon-Nam Lee said.
The K9 will likely be on sale in Korea later this year, with the worldwide shipment probably coming by early-to-mid 2013.
Watch the videos of the new K9 below.
Well if you happen to live in Kia’s home market of S. Korea, you could look into their newest offering, dubbed the Ray.
While the name might sound similar to the sea creature, the Kia Ray is neither sleek or stealthy. What it is, is a boxy city car for people who live in major metropolitan cities like Seoul.
The skin is very much in keeping with the style of all modern Kia’s, so it has a wide grille accented with chrome, plus L.E.D. daytime running lights.
What lies under the skin is anybody’s guess at the moment, although it could very possibly be carrying the three-cylinder, 1.0-liter engine or the four-cylinder, 1.25-liter engine currently offered in the Picanto, a model Kia sells in Asia and Europe, but not North America. An electric version of the Ray is also rumored.
It is also believed that while the Ray does not use the Picanto platform, much of the hardware will be shared between the two models to reduce cost.
What will surely be very unique to the Ray is the way its doors are arranged. While the rear door behind the driver opens conventionally, the rear passenger door slides, like in a minivan.
The Kia Ray might not make it to the North American market, but it could be headed to showrooms in other Asian markets like China.
It’s been years since George Bush was in office, but a trade bill from his presidency finally made it past the House and Senate.
The deal includes Columbia, Panama and South Korea to open trade between those countries and the U.S. with changes aimed to aid U.S. auto manufacturers.
“I’ve fought to make sure that these trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama deliver the best possible deal for our country, and I’ve insisted that we do more to help American workers who have been affected by global competition,” said President Obama, when asked about the deal.
Despite support from President Obama and many Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid disagreed. “I don’t favor these bills, but the majority of this Senate does, so it was important that we move forward,” he said.
Public Citizen, a watchdog group, also opposed the deal saying that it would make importing easier for foreign manufacturers but that the same balance wouldn’t be maintained for domestic companies.
While the deal is meant to open business traffic for both countries, the fact remains that South Korea is traditionally a very closed market, meaning U.S. manufacturers are likely to see less of an increase in exports out of the deal.
This could potentially help Hyundai-Kia, whose vehicles are already established in North American markets.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Along with things like baseball and celebrities, America is known for its cars. It might surprise you to learn then that in a newly compiled list of the top auto-producing nations, the U.S. of A. doesn’t place very highly. In fact, according to the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association of a total 58,478,810 cars produced last year the U.S. ranks just 7th, responsible for assembling some 1.2 million cars.
As for the top spot, it might not surprise you to learn that the world’s most populous nation, China, ranks first, churning out some 13.9 million vehicles. In second place is Japan (8.3 million), then South Korea, Brazil and India.
If the European Union member states were to rate as a single country however, then they would finish in the top spot. Last year more than 15 million plus units, were produced in the EU.
Given this rather bizarre and perhaps biased survey (the list only includes cars, and not trucks, which America produces plenty of) it begs the question, with Europe currently in the economic doldrums and experiencing near record unemployment in some member states, who in the heck is buying all these cars?
[Source: Woman on Wheels]
Kia will hold off on expanding its production facilities and sales targets in favor of improving the quality of its vehicles, CEO Lee Sam-ung told Automotive News at a launch event for its new Rio hatchback.
“Quantitative growth is important, but qualitative growth is also important. We plan to focus on improving product quality and our brand,” said Sam-ung. Industry analysts worry that limited production capacity will be the biggest factor stunting Kia’s future growth. Sam-ung set a goal of 2.5 million vehicles sold in 2011, and wants to boost Rio sales from 110,000 in 2011 to 260,000 in 2012.
Sam-ung also said that Kia will get an all-electric compact car in 2015, one year after Hyundai launches their own model.
[Source: Automotive News]
Hyundai CEO John Krafcik will keep his company’s focus on being a fuel economy leader, and has ruled out a high-performance sports car, even as he discussed the various ways in which the new CAFE regulations can be gamed to produce low fleet fuel economy ratings.
With large vehicles being held to less stringent standards under CAFE (as well as a different formula for measuring MPG than the one used for consumers), Krafcik said that auto makers may not have as strong an incentive to produce compact, fuel efficient vehicles.
Giving the full-size truck market as an example (full-size trucks will be able to comply with more lax regulations) Krafcik told Ward’s Auto that “every well-intentioned action has an unintended negative consequence. This is a classic one. Because of the new CAFE guidelines, the most fuel-efficient segment for pickup trucks, the small ones, aren’t going to be available in the U.S. market. That’s crazy.”
While Hyundai had the best fleet average fuel economy of any auto maker in the 2010 model year, Krafcik said that hitting the 2025 target of a 54.5 mpg fleet average will be tough. Krafcik also ruled out the idea of a high-end sports car, stating “… it would be expensive, and what would it really do for us?”
[Source: Ward's Auto]
When I first laid eyes on the Chevrolet Miray concept, I thought: this is what the Batmobile would look like if it was small, silver, and Korean.
A product of GM Korea, the Miray (Korean for “future” first debuted at the Seoul Motor Show earlier this year but made its European debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Built to mark Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary, the Miray re-interprets design cues from throughout the company’s sports car heritage.
The Miray can run in either front or rear-wheel drive. A turbocharged 1.5 liter four-cylinder engine drives the rear wheels while a pair of 15 kWh electric motors can power the front wheels.
A carbon fiber shell surrounds the twin cockpit (for Batman AND Robin) which is inspired by Chevrolet’s iconic sports cars.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Miray Concept
While Hyundai CEO John Krafcik didn’t give us full pricing on the upcoming Hyundai Veloster, a tweet by Hyundai’s head honcho did reveal that the highly anticipated sports coupe will start at $17,300 for a 6-speed manual version, while the Dual-Clutch Transmission will cost $18,550, while delivering 40 mpg on the highway.
In addition to a $760 freight charge, options include a “Style” package (featuring 18-inch wheels, a chrome grill, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, leatherette and an 8-speaker audio system) and a “Tech” package (which must be ordered with the “Style” package and features different 18-inch wheels, navigation, automatic headlights, keyless start, backup sensors and a backup camera).
The Honda CR-Z starts at $19,345 and is capable of 39 mpg on the open road. The CR-Z hasn’t fared well in the marketplace, and Hyundai’s massive marketing machine, cheaper base price and superior fuel economy bragging rights may spell doom for Honda’s own sports coupe.
We’ll be driving the Veloster in early September, so check back for more at AutoGuide.com
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Kelley Blue Book announced today that Hyundai has taken the number 1 spot in brand loyalty, beating out Honda and Toyota, on kbb.com for Q2 2011. Automakers have struggled recently to retain loyal customers due to the economic downturn and consumers becoming more aware of issues such as fuel prices and safety recalls.
Hyundai has remained successful through aggressive marketing campaigns combined with innovative product redesigns like the successful Sonata and Elantra. In the second quarter of 2011, Hyundai’s brand loyalty was at 52.3 percent while Honda followed with 49.7 percent and Toyota came in third at 47.7 percent. Kia and Mini are the only two brands that have gained loyalty year-over-year, thanks to attractive redesigns and additional models within their respective lineups coupled to aggressive marketing campaigns.
“Hyundai’s product renaissance is benefitting the company not just by attracting an all-new customer base, but by helping them to retain current loyal Hyundai owners, as well,” said Arthur Henry, market intelligence manager for Kelley Blue Book. ”This latest brand loyalty analysis from kbb.com is a testament to the power of attractive vehicle designs and intriguing marketing in the minds of in-market car shoppers as they consider their next vehicle.”
GM Daewoo has changed its name to GM Korea and its brand of choice to Chevrolet last March. Since the name change, customers want to replace the old GM Daewoo emblem with the Chevrolet golden bow-tie.
Since March, 28,800 GM Daewoo owners have opted for the Chevy badge. It costs GM Daewoo owners somewhere between $139-$278 for the replacement. Since the change from GM Daewoo to GM Korea, the market share has also been affected. GM Korea stood at 6.7 percent in February and has climbed to 8.5 percent in March and 9.6 percent in April-May since adopting the Chevrolet brand.
Daewoo was once a beloved brand in Korea, and motorists are fiercely nationalistic, preferring their own domestic brands over foreign automakers. The switch to Chevrolet suggests a changing tide in the Korea marketplace, since customers are willing to abandon the Daewoo brand in favor of an American nameplate.
After an employee committed suicide at a Hyundai plant in Korea, the company reports that it has resumed production.
The employee of Hyundai’s South Korea factory accused the company of “suppressing the labor movement,” forcing the company to shut down on Thursday and meet with labor officials. An agreement was made with the union, and the plant will resume building the Sonata and Korean-market Grandeur (what we once got as the Azera).
“We have resumed production from 6:15 AM today and will do Saturday and Sunday works as previously planned,” said a union official.
Hyundai will invest $173 million to modify and expand its Alabama engine plant. The expansion also includes a new engine program for the Hyundai Elantra, with a target completion date of March, 2o12. Hyundai will also hire 214 new workers within the plant to build the new engines.
There have also been informal discussions regarding a new U.S plant with at least three states in the Southeast. Hyundai CFO Lee Won-hee stated with the improvement in the auto market, Hyundai could consider building a second U.S factory. Hyundai’s sales have improved by 31 percent so far in 2011.
Hyundai may arguably be the hottest mainstream brand in the auto industry, but when it comes to dealer profitability, Hyundai dealers seem to lag behind their less popular rivals.
In a report by Automotive News, the CEO of a large dealer group told the paper that Hyundai “not yet a good business equation for dealers”. Even though the product is red hot, used car sales are weak, traffic through the service department is low and supply of the hot new cars being sold is said to be tight. These three factors are the most crucial when it comes to helping dealers turn a profit, and some potential franchisees are turning away from Hyundai as a result.
While service and used cars can cover as much as 85 percent of costs at a Chevrolet dealership, Hyundai can only count on those for 35 to 40 percent of costs, putting the onus on dealers to move new cars, which have much slimmer margins. Hyundai, for their part, has ambitious goals, aiming to become one of the most profitable dealer franchises around, but acknowledges that some of the factors that have fueled their success, like low sticker prices and reliable vehicles, may actually be hindering their progress.
[Source: Automotive News]
Is America ready for another strange-sounding offshore nameplate? That answer seems irrelevant in light of Ssangyong’s new plans to introduce their vehicles in America by 2016, with a goal to be in the marketplace by 2013.
Ssangyong has a history of making fairly rugged SUVs that have been sold in global markets. While their previous generation of light trucks benefited from Mercedes-Benz’s engineering expertise, their most recent vehicles, including the Rodius minivan, were considered to be some of the ugliest cars of all time.
Parent company Mahindra hopes that Ssangyong can move 20,000 cars in the United States, but with Mahindra’s failed experiment at importing pickups into the United States still looming in the background, dealers who previously agreed to become Mahindra franchisees are on guard, with one telling Automotive News that he fears the Ssangyong plans may just be a trojan horse for the eventual importation of Mahindra trucks.
The long rumored Hyundai Sonata station wagon exists, and it bowed at the Geneva Auto Show, dubbed the Hyundai i40 Tourer, in keeping with the brand’s European nomenclature.
Although Hyundai PR bigwigs have denied that the i40 will come to America, we think that rising gas prices may provide an impetus for this kind of vehicle, rather than an SUV. The i40 Tourer was designed at Hyundai’s German R&D facility, and it shows in the high-quality interior, compact 1.7L diesel engine and distinct styling. While a choice of powertrains is available, Hyundai is pushing their 1.7L diesel hard, an engine that is much more aligned with European rather than North American tastes. Expect this car to do battle with the Euro-market Volkswagen Passat wagon when it goes on sale this year.
Gallery: Hyundai i40 Tourer
Hyundai revealed the first photos of their i40 Tourer, a European market station wagon that stands a good chance of coming to our shores as a Sonata wagon.
European media were given a preview of the vehicle, and initial reports are crammed with the usual nauseating marketing fluff, but we do know that with the rear seats up, there’s roughly 20 cubic feet of cargo space, increasing to 60.7 with the seats folded down. Available features include Bluetooth, a navigation system, lane-departure warning, 9 airbags and heated rear seats. A stop-start system is also available.
Hyundai has unveiled a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, dubbed the Tuscon iX FCEV, that will allow the automaker to explore another area of alternative fuel technology.
With a total range of 403 miles (up from 230 previously), the Tuscon has some fairly good legs compared to the electric vehicles current marketed. Hyundai has also reduced the space needed to store hydrogen by 20 percent, and the vehicle gets an equivalent rating of 72 mpg. Hyundai also replaced the previous super capacitor system with a 21kw battery, which is credited with the bump in fuel economy.
Hyundai is looking to capture 5 percent of the U.S. car market in 2011, amid projections that show greater overall sales for new vehicles in the coming year.
With Hyundai sales up 24 percent in 2010, and a market share of 4.6 percent, the new target is certainly reachable, especially with new products like the Elantra and Accent compacts. The company will also cut fleet and rental sales from 17 percent to around 13 or 14 percent. Fleet sales help boost overall sales figures but are less profitable due to automakers selling vehicles in bulk.
While the Hyundai Veloster made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show, the company has quietly been testing a barely disguised Veloster with something a bit more sinister under the hood. The most likely explanation is that Hyundai is testing a more powerful Veloster, likely with a turbocharger.
A turbo Veloster would be the most logical choice, as its GDI engine would be well-paired with a turbo. Horsepower could be boosted well above the current 138-hp figure without a major penalty in fuel economy or curb weight. Since the standard Veloster weighs just under 2600 lbs, the associated turbo hardware would likely bring the car closer to 2700lbs.
Of course, Hyundai can’t make the Veloster too quick. Although the Genesis Coupe is expected to get a boost in power, with a base engine making 274 horsepower, the Veloster can’t step on the toes of the flagship sports car, and we think Hyundai won’t show us the Veloster’s full potential for that reason alone.
Daewoo, one of South Korea’s most famous nameplates, is being retired by parent company General Motors, in favor of Chevrolet. GM is hoping to make Chevrolet a global brand, and the move fits in with their overall strategy.
Daewoo has a deservedly poor reputation in the United States for making and selling cars that were less than stellar, but the firm has made enormous strides, becoming an invaluable engineering arm for GM’s small car division. But despite their laudable work behind the scenes (such as playing a huge role in developing the Cruze, Spark and Sonic small cars), the new company, known as GM Korea Co., will be undergoing a radical transformation this year.
The biggest marker of change will be the launch of the Camaro in Q1 of 2011, along with a refresh of 8 other vehicles. “We have studied the brand issue in depth for a long time and have come to the conclusion that launching a new brand strategy and making Chevrolet our primary brand is good for all stakeholders, including especially Korean consumers,” spokesman Park Haeho said.
Daewoo only has 9 percent market share in South Korea, compared to Hyundai’s 47 percent and Kia’s 33 percent. GM is hoping to increase it to 10 percent, despite Daewoo being a Korean nameplate in a market where domestic cars are heavily favored.
[Source: Automotive News]
Kia‘s Rondo small minivan and Borrego SUV have been dumped from the U.S. lineup, ostensibly after slow sales forced Kia to cease importation.
Although originally reported by Automotive News, Kia declined to comment on the matter. The Borrego was never a strong seller in the U.S., although the large SUV, along with the Rondo small minivan will continue being sold in Canada and other markets. The Rondo is successful north of the border, and with the arrival of the Ford C-Max and Chevrolet Orlando (also exclusive to Canada), the car’s future looks pretty solid in that market.
A report from PlugInCars.com suggests that Hyundai‘s endless march towards global domination isn’t letting up, and the next phase of their product strategy involves both a Prius competitor and a plug-in variant of the Sonata Hybrid.
According to Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s head of product planning, the Sonata plug-in Hybrid would require little in the way of engineering to make it ready. “Other manufacturers’ hybrid systems were developed in such a way to not allow them to easily develop plug-in hybrids,” he said. “For the Sonata Hybrid to become a plug-in hybrid, really all we need are bigger batteries—the basic technology platform is already designed to support a plug-in variation.”
According to O’Brein, we’ll see something within the next 12 months at one of the major auto shows. Let the speculation games begin!
For more information on news, pictures, and more, please visit http://www.sonataforums.com/
[Source: Plug-in Cars]
Hyundai was able to achieve a 45 percent market share in South Korea in 2010, falling well below its target of 52 percent. Luckily, the failure to meet the target thanks to phenomenal growth from the Kia brand, owned by Hyundai and Kia’s new Optima and Sportage.
For 2011, Hyundai is targeting a more modest 47 percent with their new Grandeur sedan and the Veloster sports coupe. Hyundai’s main competitors, Daewoo and Renault-Samsung, lag behind Kia and Hyundai significantly. South Korea still remains Hyundai’s largest market despite phenomenal growth in the United States.
In the hubub surrounding the Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai Genesis, the Hyundai Azera gets overlooked as neither fish nor fowl. The full-size front driver has fallen off the map.
Evidently, there is still a market for the Azera, and the latest generation has just been launched in Korea as the (appropriately named) Grandeur. The new Azera is two inches longer than the outgoing model, and receives the new 3.8L Lambda V6 to replace the current car’s 3.3L unit that’s become antiquated after spending far too long on the market.
The Azera’s sharp new styling could make it a pretty potent competitor to cars like the Ford Taurus and the Toyota Avalon, which may put driving enthusiasts to sleep, but have a substantial following among people looking for something to eat up highway miles during long-distance driving. Look for the new Azera sometime in 2012.