Hyundai Motor America yesterday named its new SUV the Tucson, and said that it would double its national advertising spending next year to launch the car in August, as well as boost sales of the XG350 and Sonata, according to The Car Connection (TCC) website.

TCC said Hyundai will spend around $225 million this year on national ads, rising to nearly $450 million next year.

The Car Connection said HMA CEO Robert Cosmai, who took over in September after the departure of former CEO Finbarr O'Neill to Mitsubishi, reportedly said the extra ad spending is meant to bolster Hyundai's brand in advance of opening its first US plant in Alabama in 2005, where it will build the Santa Fe SUV and Sonata car.

TCC noted that competition is growing for Hyundai, which has had great success at the entry-level end of the US market. TCC said that Chevrolet introduces the $10,000 to $15,000 [Daewoo-made] Aveo next year while Suzuki also adds two new models. "We're going to feel that," Cosmai told the website.

The Car Connection said Hyundai is on track to top 400,000 in sales this year, and Cosmai reportedly said he saw no reason why the company can't reach 500,000 by the end of 2006.

Besides the Tucson SUV, to be priced below the very successful Santa Fe SUV, Hyundai plans to launch a minivan in 2006 and is also planning on a large mid-size SUV and reportedly a light-duty pickup, TCC added.

The Car Connection said the Tucson will be offered in both front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations and will come with a standard four-cylinder or optional V6 engine with the top Tucson and entry-level Santa Fe sharing a 3.5-litre V6.

Separately, Automotive News said the new five-seat SUV would rival Toyota's RAV-4 and Honda's CR-V and that HMA was aiming for 24,000 first-year sales.