By on August 23, 2010

Did we mention that Hyundai is doing well in the U.S.? Sales up 21 percent for the year. Hyundai cars sold in the U.S. average about 30 miles per gallon, the best fuel efficiency in the industry. Jack Baruth loves his 2005 Hyundai Accent so much that major portions had to be redacted such as not to conflict with indecency laws. Can Hyundai do much better than that? They think they can. How? No idea.

By 2025, Hyundai  plans to have a fleet average  of 50 mpg  for its cars sold in the U.S., says The Nikkei [sub]. That’s on par with hybrid cars.

A lofty goal? Hyundai is used to lofty goals. Faced by a government mandated fuel efficiency of 35.5 per gallon by 2016, Hyundai previously targeted 35 miles per gallon by 2015. They aren’t too far away from reaching it.

John Krafcik, president of Hyundai U.S., told The Nikkei that he has no idea how they will reach the 50 mpg target. In the world according to Krafcik, a target one knows how to reach cannot be called a target.

Hyundai also plans to release seven new models in the United States by the end of 2011.

For high-end models, there will be something highly unusual: Only two trim levels. Their Equus, to be launched stateside in fall, will be offered as a stripper and a fully decked-oout version, including an LCD TV, and a refrigerator. A printed manual will be missing. It will come on an iPad tablet computer.

Krafcik said people are tired of going through long lists of confusing options. By cutting down on the choices, the car is easier to make.

Hyundai’s U.S. market share, including Kia, rose to 7.8 percent in the January-July period this year, mainly on the strong sales of the Sonata.

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10 Comments on “Hyundai Aims High With Record-Low 50 MPG...”

  • avatar

    They’ll hit their 50 mpg target if they avoid the lure of selling too many trucks/minivans (Sedona) in the US. My 09 Sedona gets maybe 15/22 in real life, and industry-wide, minivans have made no fuel economy advances in 25 years. But they have increased power and amenities, to be sure.

    It’s OK to call 50 mpg a “target”. That’s what the moon was for the US in 1962, when the means to reach it was unknown, but considered possible through enough research and development.

  • avatar

    Wonderful supply side economics trying to alter demand. As the most direct and efficient (least amount of loopholes and fees paid for not meeting CAFE b/c SUV profits make up for it) is artificially inflating gas prices to a higher level to make people demand small cars – thus no need to force MFGRs to build mostly what people don’t want.

  • avatar

    The fact that this company sets goals for itself and then works to achieve them is one of the reasons they’re doing so well. Even if they only get a fleet average 49 mpg, they will have succeeded in stimulating progress, which is the fundamental goal they are trying to accomplish. I’m guessing they’ll meet or exceed 50 mpg, though.

  • avatar

    “In the world according to Krafcik, a target one knows how to reach cannot be called a target.”

    That’s a quotable quote.

    Hyundai set itself a goal of “Number Five” and hit it, despite the naysayers. I didn’t believe it could be done, either.

    50 mpg might be a less attainable goal, but it’s a goal worth shooting for.

  • avatar

    Regarding Krafcik’s comment about “long lists of confusing options,” I’m going to go out on a limb and guess he’s right: for the OTHER luxury cars. I’m guessing that shoppers of the flagships for BMW, Audi, MB, etc. tend not to pore over long lists of options, BUT Hyundai shoppers are more value-oriented. Therefore, I think they WOULD prefer more configuration flexibility even at the upper end of the product line.

  • avatar

    The problem is going to be that any additional gains in non-hybrids are going to become exponentially more difficult if:

    1. The speed limit remains 65-75 everywhere.
    2. CAFE and EPA continue to hate diesels.
    3. Overall engine power levels do no decrease materially.
    4. The EPA test doesn’t change back to favor mfrs and conservative driving.

    I’m not in favor of any of those things except #2…diesel is like a turnkey solution for diversification, even though particulates and weights are higher than with gas engines. And now that DI gas engines are closing the gap, they make less sense.

    Good for Hyundai on all this. Nice to see a company executing on their plans AND offering cars people actually want, which look nice and have fantastic warranties.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    I agree EPA doesn’t like diesels, but I was unaware CAFE (NHTSA) penalized them somehow, also. Would love to hear more about that. I would throw in to the anti-diesel camp, however, CARB (California Air Resources Board), as well as EPA: I think California has always been pretty down on diesels, and of course what CARB does influences many other regulators, at the state and federal levels…

  • avatar

    “They think they can. How? No idea.”

    Here’s an idea:
    1) 1.2 Kappa + GDI -> Accent
    2) 1.2 Kappa + GDI + Turbo (or 1.4 Gamma + GDI) -> Elantra
    3) 1.6 Gamma GDI + Turbo -> Sonata
    4) 2.4 Theta II GDI + Turbo -> Genesis / Santa Fe / Azera
    5) 3.3 Lambda II GDI + Turbo -> Equus

    Now add hybrid technology + dual clutch and 8-speed transmissions to the mix and you’ll see they’re more than capable of at least approaching the 50 mpg target in fairly short order.

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