Emphasizing that it is looking at “every segment” of the market for expansion, Hyundai Motor America says variants of its Sonata midsize sedan are under study, including a coupe and wagon.
“We do need to consider variants of the Sonata platform,” John Krafcik, a Hyundai planning vice president, tells Ward's in Portland, OR, at a preview of the new Tucson cross/utility vehicle.
“You could do a large sporty coupe; you could do a large sporty convertible; you could do a hatchback; you could do a wagon — you could do a (Dodge)Magnum-style wagon,” Krafcik says. “There are all sorts of things that could be done.”
He says those variants are especially pertinent now because they could seed Hyundai's North American research and development team. The spin-offs would be drawn from the next-generation Sonata and likely hit the market before 2010.
The new NF Sonata, which debuts in the U.S. next spring as an '06 model, will be the first vehicle to be built at Hyundai's $1.1 billion Montgomery, AL, plant. Hyundai executives promise the car will be a “brand-altering product” and trigger the beginning of a change in how people perceive Hyundai in America.
Meanwhile, Hyundai says it is considering a luxury vehicle for the U.S. market. But executives say, contrary to published reports, it has not been decided whether that would entail formation of an entirely new luxury brand, as well.