By on November 10, 2017

2017 Hyundai Tucson - Image: Hyundai

Hyundai says it hasn’t made a decision one way or the other, but a South Korean publication claims company officials are considering a huge U.S. production push, all designed to reverse falling sales.

Reported by Seoul Economic Daily, the tentative plan (leaked by anonymous industry officials) is all about getting more utility vehicles into the hands of American buyers. It would see U.S.-market Tucson and Kona crossovers, currently built in Korea, move assembly to Montgomery, Alabama. A pickup truck would follow.

Looking at U.S. sales numbers, there’s clearly a need for Hyundai do something drastic. The brand’s sales fell 15.2 percent in October, with year-to-date sales down 13.1 percent.

With traditional passenger cars flaming out, it’s up to crossovers and SUVs to build that rosy future. Unfortunately, Hyundai often can’t get enough of them. Speaking recently with Reuters, which carried the Seoul Economic Daily report, Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, Michael J. O‘Brien, said the hot-selling Tucson was “short of supply.”

He also hinted that the subcompact Kona, due to arrive early next year or late this year, might not remain Korean-built. Through the end of October, sales of the compact Tucson have already topped the volume seen in all 12 months of 2016. The report states the Tucson would join the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport (as well as the Elantra and Sonata) in Montgomery in 2021.

Should the plan come to fruition, Hyundai’s Alabama production capacity would grow from 380,000 vehicles per year to 450,000.

“We are always considering the possibilities of all products in individual markets,” the company said in a statement.

A year ago, Hyundai announced a plan to revamp its crossover lineup for greater U.S. appeal. Part of that plan involves a slightly larger next-generation Tucson. Meanwhile, the Santa Fe Sport will gain a dose of ruggedness, with the range-topping Santa Fe growing larger and receiving a new name. In the hopes of milking some extra sales from its two largest vehicles, Hyundai has announced a value package for the 2018 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.

[Image: Hyundai]

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16 Comments on “Searching for Volume, Hyundai Considering Bringing More Vehicles Stateside: Report...”

  • avatar

    Time for a full-sized BOF platform, Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar

      Time to revive the Kia Borrego as a Hyundai?

      • 0 avatar

        IMHO the Borrego was the right product at the wrong time. I believe with slightly updated styling and a driving experience that at least matches a Tahoe it would sell like gangbusters. (Honestly it was world’s better and less cynical than the Jeep Commander.)

        • 0 avatar

          For what its worth, that first generation is still for sale globally with minimal tweaking. Decently regarded as a cut-rate and slightly smaller Land Cruiser 100/Patrol substitute. Same IFS/BOF setup as the R51 pathfinder, final BOF Explorers, and current Armada/Patrol. Ultimately falls short of the Land Cruiser offroad due to articulation constraints and less favorable geometry in general. I think there is an option for a mechanical read LSD at least, which helps a lot, similarly employed by the IRS Montero III.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Can you still get a 105 series Land Cruiser in any markets? Because unless you are in one of the places the ancient 70 series is still sold that was the last Cruiser to get a solid front axle. The 105 was basically a 100 body on an 80 series chassis. They tended to be more rugged and sparsely equipped than the 100 series that rode on a new chassis with IFS. The current 200 series is IFS which was supposedly beefed up to address some of the weaknesses identified in the 100 series. Ideally I’d drop a 60 series body on a 105 chassis but the 60 was leaf springs all around while the 80 and 105 got coils so don’t know how it would go.

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry I should have stated IRS/BOF, I’m focusing on the rear suspensions only. Toyota makes a fantastically-articulating 5 link solid rear axle with oodles of travel that’s their ace in the hole, along with fairly good geometry despite the gingerbread and fragile plastic bumpers.

  • avatar

    Good news for the workers they will have to hire in the states too.

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    Santa Cruz sooner, please.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    My old boss and his wife bought Hyundai SUVs. He bragged about them being cheaper than their Japanese/American counterparts. Until both SUVs had engines problems around 60K. They’re both masters degrees holding individuals, successful in their fields and the type of customer everybody wants. When Hyundai burns people who didn’t wanna pay the “Japanese Tax” word gets around. SUVs aren’t good looking; it’s like trying to restyle a work boot. Some may have nicely coherent desings (insert your choice(s)) here. Hyundai needs to hire a strong lead stylist. Hyundais are styled to be unoffensive. None of them make most people go “damn I want one!”. Designing a standout vehicle and remove peoples doubts about longevity will go a long way to increasing sales. More “meh” is still more “meh” with just more “meh” to choose from.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m very surprised to learn that Hyundai had engine problems. We’ve had excellent experience with the 2011 Elantra we bought new for our grand daughter, and which is still in use with over 200K on the clock, after being sold to one of her friends.

      The Hyundai 10-year warranty is the best in the business. My brothers sold and serviced Hyundai (in addition to several other brands, foreign and domestic) prior to their retirement from retail, and Hyundai was the least problematic brand.

      So that said, I would encourage Hyundai to bring more cars to the US.

      • 0 avatar

        the last generation Sonata engines had an above average chance of blowing up. So much so that Hyundai extended the warranties to 120k miles.

        All it takes is for one person to have their engine prematurely fail, then their friends/family hear about it and no amount of TV adverts will change that sour perception.

        • 0 avatar

          Interesting. Thanks.

          Like I wrote above, my brothers had several multi-brand dealerships in CA, AZ, TX, and AL and in CA Hyundai was a hot seller, especially the V6 Sonata.

          Never heard of any Hyundai engines self-destructing or blowing up.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly this. I know several people who “traded down” to Hyundai during the recession. They all went back to Honda / Toyota or moved up to lux brands. Overall feedback seemed to be that the Hyundais seemed “2/3 of the way there.”

      They felt a bit cheaper, weren’t quite as nice to drive, etc. They FELT like a downgrade, although not by a huge margin. So they went back to the established brands and haven’t looked back. Hyundai may have improved since, but they had their chance at bat and didn’t impress enough to retain that customer.

      My neighbor usually sticks to lux SUVs for his wife, but got taken in by the “all the same features as Lexus for half the price” and took a chance on a loaded Hyundai Santa Fe. When the lease was up, he went right back to Lexus.

      I think Hyundai blew their chance at any real lasting momentum. JMO.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      We are on our second. No issues whatsoever with the first, an 07 Tucson and it did 4 Winters in upstate NY. It had the original battery even. We like out 2017 Santa Fe but the local dealer this time hasn’t been as good. The car was misaligned from the factory. Dealer looked at it twice and Said they fixed it. They never even touched it. I took it to an alignment shop and he showede the factory markings and it had never been touched. I like it but that sort of stuff leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

      We set out to buy a CR-V but it was a 102 degree day in Augusta and through a 45 minute test drive the AC never got it cool. The Hyundai cooled right off. Since she drives her cars a decade typically the resale wasn’t really an issue. She wanted a 4 Runner but for her use we didn’t want to take the penalty at the pump but I may be swayed if she likes the new Bronco because I had them growing up and am a Ford guy but a trade in at that point would make me wish we’d sweated in the Honda probably but I won’t be upside down at least.

  • avatar

    FWIW, I’ve had more Kias and Hyundais as rental cars than anything else, by a long shot, for the last few years. The thing that stands out the most to me is that they’ve made massive strides in suspension tuning. I would seriously consider one next time I find myself in the market for something. My last Korean rental, a pretty base Santa Fe Sport, rode and handled superbly. It had fat 65 series tires which may have contributed to the excellent ride.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’d not sleep on Hyundai, it seems they’re quick to fix what’s not up to par for class. See the big jump the Genesis sedan has made from gen 1 to gen 2, Peter Schrayer styling tops most Japanese marks, recent poaching of not just a BMW lead engineer , but from the M division.
    Combine that with the insane Korean engineering work ethic, and could easily compete with at least Acura and Infinity and Buick/Chevy from the USDM.
    Whereas Lexus is probably safe based on brand rep and dealer customer service, despite how awful they look.

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