Searching for Volume, Hyundai Considering Bringing More Vehicles Stateside: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
searching for volume hyundai considering bringing more vehicles stateside report

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 r evamp 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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  • Gtem Gtem on Nov 10, 2017

    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.

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Nov 10, 2017

    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.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic And this too shall pass.....Ford went thru this when the model T was introduced. It took the moving assembly line to make real money. As time progressed, it got refined, eventually moving to the Model A. Same kind of hiccups with fuel injection, 4 speed automatic, Firestone tires, dashboards with no radio knobs, etc, etc, etc. Same thing with EVs. Yep, a fire or two in the parking lot, espresso time at the charging stations, other issues yet to be encountered, just give it time. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Art Vandelay 2025 Camaro and Challenger
  • Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.
  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.