Hyundai has given Sonata its first full redesign in almost five years

Hyundai has given Sonata its first full redesign in almost five years

Hyundai has targeted sales of 228,000 Sonata sedans globally this year, and 338,000 in 2015, hoping the premium key model will regain market share and reverse a fall in profits.

The carmaker aims to sell 63,000 redesigned Sonatas in Korea and 165,000 overseas this year, it said in statement.

Next year, Hyundai wants to achieve global sales of 338,000 Sonata sedans - 89,000 in Korea and 249,000 overseas, plus another 120,000 in China, Hyundai executive vice president Kwak Jin told Bloomberg News without elaborating.

However, the 2014 sales forecast missed analyst estimates, according to the news agency.

It compares with the 245,000 units average of three analysts’ estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Hyundai launched the mid-sized sedan in South Korea this week - the model's first makeover in nearly five years.

It makes its US debut at the New York auto show next month.

Bloomberg said the launch of the new Sonata comes after a year of record recalls, a worsening currency exchange rate and the company’s first annual profit drop in five years.

Hyundai is betting on the Sonata to be another hit product like its predecessor introduced in 2009, which helped the company to gain more market share than any major automaker for the last half decade, and boosted sales in the US and China, the news agency noted.

"Hyundai’s performance this year will hinge on how well the new Sonata performs in the US and other key markets,” Song Sun Jae, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities, told Bloomberg.

Global Sonata deliveries fell to 476,103 units last year after peaking at 523,320 in 2011, as competitors introduced fresher rival models. Toyota redesigned the Camry in 2011 and the latest generation of Ford’s Fusion [to be sold in Europe as the redesigned Mondeo] was unveiled in 2012.

Since it was first introduced in 1985, the Sonata has sold more than 6.8m units worldwide and was Hyundai’s second best-selling model behind the Elantra in the US last year, Bloomberg said. Annual sales of the model almost doubled in the US by 2012 following the revamp, company data showed.

For Hyundai, the Sonata will be the most important new model for the company this year as its bestselling Elantra, 2012 North American Car of the Year, isn’t due for a major change until next year, the report added.

The overhaul comes as chairman Chung Mong Koo, head of both Hyundai and Kia, is forecasting the weakest sales growth in eight years for 2014 as competition intensifies and the stronger won hampers exports.

Pre-orders for the car, which is priced from KRW22.55m (US$20,900), opened on 5 March in South Korea. The company has received about 15,000 orders so far, Hwang Chung Yul, vice president at Hyundai, told Bloomberg News. The company didn’t provide overseas prices.

The automaker reportedly spent KRW450bn over three years developing the redesigned model.