Hyundai Motor has launched its redesigned mid-sized sedan Sonata, following four years of development and a KRW450bn won (US$373m) investment, and will build it in three key markets.

The automaker plans to sell 60,000 units at home in Korea this year. It will start US production at its Alabama plant early next year while production and sales will begin at Beijing Hyundai (soon to start building its third plant in China) early in 2011. Hyundai expects to sell 450,000 a year worldwide from then.

“The new Sonata will raise Hyundai’s brand values,” vice chairman Euisun Chung claimed at a launch event in Seoul today (18 September).

This is the sixth generation of a model first launched in 1985. The latest range will include a hybrid.

Korean buyers are offered a two-litre ‘Theta II’ petrol engine claimed to have the best fuel economy in its segment at 12.8km/litre, about 11% better than its predecessor. All engines are available with a new six-speed automatic transmission that replaces the previous four-speed unit.

The Sonata’s home market price will range from KRW21.3m to KRW25.95m ($17,600 to $21,450).