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Hyundai plots brave new MPV future

Published: 24 October 2008

Hyundai’s president believes his firm’s future lies in MPVs and more derivatives of its existing models.

Kun-Hee Ahn, chief of the Korean firm’s European operation said: 'The world is currently a very unfriendly place for SUVs. For us the future has two directions. We will do more MPVs: our smaller B and C segment i20 and i30 will each have a people carrier version built on their platform.' The i30 MPV, reportedly very close to the i-Mode concept (pictured right) from earlier this year, is expected to be unveiled in 2010. A vehicle based on the newly launched i20 supermini will follow it.

Ahn added: 'We don’t think the future is in opening new niches. We’ll let other companies do that. We will offer people more choice with our existing cars. So each model will have a larger number of engine sizes and trim levels.' As part of this, the firm will have a warm hatch version of its i20 with a 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine to compete with the forthcoming Skoda Fabia vRS.

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Despite the global downturn Hyundai and sister company Kia still have ambitious sales targets. Ahn claimed: 'Currently our world-wide sales are just below four million annually and we want to sell six million cars a year by 2010 – and make money on those we sell. We think it’s possible because we’ll achieve growth through emerging markets such as India.'

Hyundai is also to launch a replacement to its Sonata saloon, the i40, next year but hasn’t yet decided on its BMW 5-Series rival, the i50. Ahn said: 'In America (where the i50 is called Genesis) we are stealing customers from Mercedes, BMW and Lexus. But people aren’t as brand sensitive there. Here if we price a car at more than 30,000 Euros (£23,600) customers can’t handle it so we still have some thinking to do.'

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