Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun debuted the Kona at the Kona World Premiere, the first SUV in the B segment, produced by Hyundai Motor, on June 13. He said the motor company will produce mini and large SUVs to cope with consumer demands for SUVs.
The Hyundai Motor vice chairman said Hyundai Motor will expand the SUV lineup to step up its offensive in the SUV market around the world. The SUV market expanded 10 times from 2010 to 2016, with the B segment of the market growing the fastest. Major auto makers are racing to develop B segment vehicles. The vice chairman added that the firm will produce SUVs in all segments of the SUV market, from A to E, to expand customer choice. The A segment is the market for the smallest SUVs and the E segment for the largest.
Hyundai Motor produces four kinds of SUVs; Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, and Max Cruise, but plans to add more types; two models in the A segment, the electric Kona; “FE” powered by Hydrogen; and a large SUV in the E segment by 2020, bringing all SUV models to nine.
He also said Hyundai and Kia will produce environmentally friendly cars with as concern over “fine dust” in Korea rises by the day, which is why Hyundai will produce an electric Kona that can run 390 km on a one-time battery charge and debut it in the auto market in the first half of next year.
The motor firm will diversify the electric and hydrogen SUV models high-powered engines to cope with diverse demands in the global SUV market with the Kona slated to debut in the European car market in August and the U.S. car market in December to avoid auto markets in emerging nations, including India, Russia and Brazil, where the Creta, in the same class with the Kona, is being sold. The Kona will compete with the Tivoli of Ssangyong Motor, which has been sweeping the small SUV market in Korea, where five carmakers will be fighting for market share for their small SUVs soon.
The Kona will draw customers’ attention to its design with its separable lamps and bumpers, which look like protective armor for ice hockey players.
The Kona is priced at around 20 million won and has a head-up display installed usually found in a high-priced car, along with features that help cars maintain their lanes, among other safety technologies to boost its cost-effectiveness.
Customers looking for an SUV model like the Kona, not only in Korea but all over the world, are cost-conscious rational consumers, which is why Hyundai made the Kona to prioritize their demands.
The motor firm projects sales of 26,000 Konas at home and 41,000 abroad this year, and 45,000 at home and 150,000 overseas next year. The automaker started accepting pre-sales contracts from June 14 before launching a sale at the end of the month.
The SUV has a price tag of 18.95 million won to 24.55 million won.
Chung denied that Hyundai has been looking at brands of other carmakers for a takeover, which happens often in China, but he confirmed that the carmaker has been undertaking projects with a number of IT firms including Sisco, Baidu and Uber, adding that rival carmakers would step up cooperation with them rather than M&As.
He said Hyundai and Kia should be ready for the day when the cooperation among carmakers is boosted by upgrading their capacities and changing corporate cultures a big task left for them.
A view of the Kona shown for the first time at the Hyundai Motor Studio in Ilsan near Seoul on June 13