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.
Is Hyundai being hit by the curernt economic climate?
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.'