South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. plans to roll out its new Sonata mid-sized sedan as early as next month, market sources and company officials said Wednesday, amid the company's efforts to boost its domestic sales.
The new Sonata is said to have an entirely different design that includes the new cascading grille seen in other new Hyundai cars launched earlier.
The car is also expected to have new and advanced safety features that are usually seen in upper segment vehicles, according to the sources.
The new Sonata will be the first new Hyundai car to be introduced this year.
"We will likely launch the new facelift model in March or April," a company official said, while asking not to be identified.
The official added the new version will not mark a new generation of the car, which was first introduced in 1985, but that it will have more than just a new look.
Hyundai Motor earlier said the company, together with its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp., will introduce more than 10 new vehicles this year. Such an aggressive launch schedule follows a 7.8 percent on-year dip in domestic sales of Hyundai.
The top automaker earlier said its overall sales slipped 2.1 percent on-year to 4.86 million cars last year as its overseas sales also retreated 1.2 percent.
The Sonata alone sold 82,203 units in the local market last year, but the tally marked a 24.2 percent plunge from the year before.
Also, the car failed to take the best-selling car spot in its segment when excluding a large number of cars sold as taxis.
In the June-December period, the SM6 from Renault Samsung Motors Co., the South Korean unit of French automaker Renault S.A., was the best-selling mid-sized sedan with 31,834 units sold here.
It was closely followed by the Chevrolet Malibu from GM Korea Co., the local unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors Co., which sold 30,364 units. The Hyundai Sonata came in third with only 23,751 units when excluding taxi sales. Neither the SM6 nor the Malibu are currently available as taxis, which come at a significantly lower price than those sold to ordinary consumers. (Yonhap)