wheel has turned full circle. Beginning in the 1960s, Toyota gradually inched
its six-cylinder Crown sedan into export markets, challenging larger, but less
well built home-grown competition on price and features.

Now the hunter has become the hunted as Korea’s Hyundai launches its newly
developed three-litre V6 XG flagship in Japan, aiming the luxury sedan at the
latest incarnation of the Crown, as well as similar models from Nissan, Honda
and Mitsubishi.

Just as the Japanese did on those early export forays, Hyundai is using value
for money as a key weapon. There is no question of challenging experienced Japanese
competitors on the quality issue, although the XG has been generally well received
by car critics in other export markets including the USA.

Loaded with equipment including top audio, air conditioning, multiple airbags
and power-adjusted seats, the base XG enters the Japanese market at 2.39 million
yen ($US19,400), undercutting the equivalent Crown by around a million yen ($US8,100).

XG flagship

Just as the Japanese did in those early export days, instant acceptance of
the foreign product in a market loyal to home-made cars is not expected and
the annual sales target is a modest 1,000 vehicles.

Nevertheless, Hyundai is serious about moving into the Japanese market. It
has set a 2001 sales target of 5,000 vehicles and plans to have 40 dealers by
the end of the year, with half of those open by next month.

The Elantra sedan, Trajet minivan and Santa Fe SUV are also on the Japanese
dealers’ price lists.

The Koreans plan to sell 30,000 Hyundais a year through a network of 100 dealers
by 2005.

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