Hyundai Motor plans to challenge Toyota's premium Lexus brand in the United States with the redesigned Grandeur (XG) sedan which makes its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

The new model is scheduled to go on sale in the US - the largest export market for both Hyundai and Lexus - in July or August.

The outgoing XG350 sedan currently on sale in the US has a 3.5-litre V6 but the redesigned car will have a new 3.8-litre V6 that is 25% more powerful and more efficient, a Hyundai Motor spokesman in Seoul told just-auto.

The redesigned XG is part of Hyundai Motor's plan to unveil seven new or significantly redesigned cars by 2006. The Korean company plans to be one of the world's top five automakers by 2010.

"We will launch the new model in the US market but don't plan, at this point, to sell it in Europe," Hyundai Motor spokesman Oles Gadacz said. "Even if we [did decide to] sell it in Europe, the volume would be very small because we sell only 6,000 units of the Sonata there a year."

Gadacz said the redesigned XG will be shipped to the US from South Korea rather than being assembled alongside the Sonata in Hyundai's brand-new Alabama plant, due to open in March.

Hyundai Motor launched the then-new XG350 in Europe and the UK about four years ago. Hyundai UK spokesman Rodney Kumar said that 752 cars were sold in the UK. "We sold about 250 a year in the just under three years we had it on sale and that was about the rate we expected," he added.

Peter Chang