By on July 31, 2012

What do you do if you lose market share and can’t stand it anymore? You deliver what the market wants. Hyundai is trying to make up for losses in China with a (so far) China only car that slot between the Elantra and the Sonata, says Reuters.

People who know the world’s largest car market will tell you that “Chinese want big cars with small engines.” They want roomy cars that signal that the owner has been prosperous; the engine however should be small enough to deliver a miserly consumption of gas, or “oil” as they say in China.

Hyundai will deliver just that. It will shrink its Sonata, and will power it with a 1.8 liter engine, and possibly a 1.6 liter turbo-charged engine. As Nissan has shown with the Sylphy (an overgrown Tiida,) big car with small engine is the key to Chinese hearts and wallets.

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11 Comments on “More Car, Less Filling: Hyundai Makes Sonata Lite...”

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    Interesting cultural factoid. All show and no go really seems to apply.

    One would think that Ford would then be prime to sell a ton of Explorers and Edges in China what with their miniscule turbo’ed motors, but the fact is they aren’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      The rest of the world doesn’t consider a 2.0 turbo to be a miniscule engine.

    • 0 avatar

      In 1998, I went to the King Dome in Seattle. All I had ever heard about it was how horrible it was and how it was falling apart.

      In 2010, I went to the Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest). I had always seen it as a major architectural accomplishment and a beautiful building.

      The King Dome was in better shape less than 2 years before its demolition than the Bird’s Nest was less than 2 years after its opening. Still looked great from afar though.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        interesting. perhaps the same long term quality issues may affect the domestic Chinese brands but one would think the foreign brands, Audi Buick etc. would fare better. Would that change the Chinese expectation regarding quality?

    • 0 avatar

      How is this a cultural factoid? It’s not a cultural thing in China at all, it’s the practical fact that most of the world drives cars with much smaller motors than we do since fuel costs are even more of a problem pretty much everywhere else. Even BMW 3 series are commonly sold with 2 liter NA motors in the rest of the world. And there’s the 116hp 316d diesel powered version that’s popular in Europe too…

  • avatar

    Something sized like that could sell in the US, also, but I think Hyundai would be loathe to dilute sales of Sonatas or Elantras. These days, a 1.8 or 1.6T isn’t so small.

    • 0 avatar

      The 1.6T engine, if offered only in the Sonata, could prod some top-of-the-line Elantra buyers into considering a Sonata. It will encourage some base-2.4GDI Sonata buyers to upgrade. Most likely it’ll return better EPA (maybe even real world) fuel consumption than the current 2.4GDI in the base Sonata, and comparable EPA figures to the naturally aspirated engines in the Elantras. It would cannibalize a large chunk of premium sales from the 2.0T, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like it would be about the size of the i40.

  • avatar

    Interesting. Any idea what the popularity is of hybrids (compared to the US) and stop/start systems (compared to Europe)? I assume that gridlocked roads in prosperous cities mean that those kinds of low-speed fuel-savers would be even more popular in China.

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