Hyundai mulls more crossover, pickup output at U.S. plant, report says

by admin November 10, 2017 at 7:35 am

Employees inspect vehicle frames inside the paint shop at Hyundai’s assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala., in July.

SEOUL — Hyundai Motor Co. is considering building the Tucson and Kona crossovers and a planned pickup truck at its sole U.S. factory to help reverse a sales slump, the Seoul Economic Daily reported on Friday.

Hyundai aims to produce the Tucson and the pickup at its U.S. plant in Alabama in 2021, the report said, citing anonymous industry officials. The plant currently builds the Sonata and Elantra sedans and the Santa Fe crossover.

Hyundai told Reuters it had made no decision about future production in the United States.

“We are always considering the possibilities of all products in individual markets,” it said in a statement.

To boost crossover output, Hyundai would increase the production capacity of the U.S. factory to 450,000 vehicles a year, from the current 380,000 vehicles, the report said.

Hyundai Motor denied it had any plan to expand U.S. capacity.

The company is grappling with slumping sales of its mainstay sedans such as the Sonata as low oil prices drive demand for crossovers and trucks. While light truck volume continues to grow, U.S. car sales are on track to decline for the fourth straight year in 2017.

Hyundai posted the biggest U.S. sales decline among carmakers in October, with volume dropping 15 percent in a market that slipped 1.2 percent.

Hyundai Motor senior executive Michael J. O’Brien previously told Reuters it planned to launch a pickup truck in the United States, while people familiar with the matter said the model was expected to be produced in late 2020 and was likely to be built in Alabama.

O’Brien also said the “number one issue” was how to increase production, particularly of the Tucson, which was “short of supply.”

He also said the smaller Kona crossover, which will be launched in the United States early next year, will come from South Korea, “at least initially.”

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