Hyundai Group is taking over distribution in Germany and France from Swiss-based Emil Frey as part of its strategy to enhance marketing and sales in Europe.

Hyundai Motor Europe will acquire the German dealership company from Emil Frey, the second-largest dealer group in Europe, as part of the move. It also plans to take over a French dealer company from the Swiss firm to establish a national sales corporation (NSC) in France.

Hyundai Motor registered sales in Germany of 61,378 units in the first 10 months of 2011, up 29% year on year. French sales between January and October rose 12% to 19,000 units.

Hyundai already has its own distribution operations in the UK, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and Poland. A spokesman said adding France and Germany would strengthen its competitiveness in Europe.

The change reflects similar strategies adopted by affilate Kia and rival Mazda in Europe several years ago where independent distributors were replaced by the automakers' own NSCs.

The Hyundai brand captured 2.9% of the European market with sales of 339,250 units for the first 10 months of the year, up 0.4%.

Hyundai wants to improve its brand awareness and image especially in the big five markets in Europe ? Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain. While the 'big five' countries account for about 75% of the European automobile market, Hyundai’s share in those countries is relatively small compared to its presence in other European countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium.

Hyundai Motor and Kia - both headquartered in Germany - overtook Toyota with their combined sales in Europe last year.