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May 14, 2008

SOUTH KOREA: Hyundai confirms US truck axe

Hyundai Motor has confirmed earlier media reports it had scrapped plans to build pick-up trucks in the US - a step the company until recently considered essential in establishing a strong presence in the North American vehicle market.

Hyundai Motor has confirmed earlier media reports it had scrapped plans to build pick-up trucks in the US – a step the company until recently considered essential in establishing a strong presence in the North American vehicle market.

The company’s vice chairman & CEO Kim Dong-Jin said this is no longer a viable strategy for the company.

The US pick-up truck market, by far the largest in the world, is coming under pressure from a move towards lower consumption vehicles – particularly among private motorists. This market segment fell by 6% last year to just over 2.1m units – twice the rate of decline of the overall market.

Vehicle manufacturers such as Ford expect the US pick-up truck market to continue to decline until it settles at around 12% of overall sales, compared with over 15% and around 2.5m units just a few years ago. Furthermore, the market has become more competitive, with Toyota having successfully launched its new Tundra model.

Hyundai Motor had considered developing a mid-sized pick-up truck for assembly at Kia Motors’ new plant in Georgia to help lift its presence in the region. The company has struggled to meet its US sales targets in the last few years, but hopes that a renewed offensive with its new Genesis rear-wheel drive car and the Mohave SUV will help lift sales this year, from 467,000 units in 2007.

Tony Pugliese

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