Daily Archives: April 6, 2007

Hyundai’s New 7-Passenger Veracruz a Sweet Deal

Hyundai’s new 7-passenger Veracruz a sweet deal

Hyundai is positioning its all-new 2007 Veracruz seven-passenger crossover utility vehicle against venerable competition, models such as Honda’s Pilot and Toyota’s Highlander, boasting a better powertrain performance and more safety features, in addition to high-quality craftsmanship and sophisticated styling. Like other manufacturers, Hyundai clearly envisions a still-growing crossover marketplace in the U.S., as the South Korean manufacturer now includes three CUVs in its product portfolio.

On sale now, the new Veracruz is available in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations. The seven-seater may be optioned at three distinct trim levels. Hardly “entry level” in terms of equipment, base GLS models are outfitted with features such as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a multifunctional steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, power windows/locks/heated mirror with turn signal indicators, remote keyless entry and tire-pressure monitoring. This version is impressively priced at $26,995 as a front driver and $28,695 in AWD format.

That same $28,695 entry fee gets you inside a FWD Veracruz SE model, which adds 18-inch wheels, power driver’s seat adjustment, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, front fog lights, roof rack and center storage console with the “Cool Box” feature to the already well-equipped base model. Hyundai Veracruz SE AWD models ring up at $30,395.

Anteing up $32,995 (FWD) or $34,695 (AWD) yields the comprehensive Limited package, which brings leather upholstery, power front passenger seat adjustment, heated front seats, a 315-watt Infinity audio system, power sunroof, power tailgate, automatic temperature control, windshield wiper de-icing, a conversation mirror and reverse warning. Chrome and brushed metal enhancements are also thoughtfully designed throughout.

Veracruz GLS models can be ordered with a $1,950 Premium Package that brings a sunroof, power driver’s seat, front seat heaters, leather wrapped steering wheel/shift knob and reverse warning. At the SE level, this package becomes “Premium and Leather,” commanding $3,350 while adding leather seats and an Infinity audio system, in addition to the GLS’s Premium offering. Additionally, a $1,600 Entertainment Package tacks on rear-seat DVD entertainment, a 115-volt outlet and a conversation mirror (to enable front seat passengers to see rear seat passengers when talking. The Premium/Leather gear is required for the Entertainment Package to be checked.

Finally, Veracruz Limited models get exclusive rights to the $2,950 Ultimate Package, which delivers adjustable pedals, memory settings, a power tilting/telescoping wheel, rain-sensing wipers, proximity key, lighted door scuff plates and the 115-volt outlet and the conversation mirror. Another $250 yields Premium Black/Saddle interior materials.

All models are powered by an all-aluminum 3.8-liter V-6 engine shared with the Azera sedan and rated for 260 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque in front of a six-speed automatic transmission. Continuously variable valve timing helps optimize intake valve operation, while the variable intake system enhancing cylinder “breathing” at both low and high engine speeds. Semi-active engine mounts decrease motor vibration and, as Hyundai gleefully proclaims, allows the Veracruz to idle with less noise and vibration than a Lexus RX350. The transmission includes sporty Shiftronic manual control, and fuel economy rates at 18/25 city/highway miles per gallon as a FWD vehicle and 17/24 mpg with the AWD system.

That electronic all-wheel-drive setup includes a lock mode splitting torque 50:50 front to rear.

The unibody chassis, MacPherson front suspension, multilink rear independent suspension, gas-charged dampers, front and rear stabilizer bars, 245/65-series 17-inch tires and rack-and-pinion steering ensure carlike composure and crisp handling over a variety of road conditions. The optional 18-inch wheels maintain the same 245mm width tire, but the aspect ratio drops to 60 (lower profile).

Safety equipment is plentiful, including dual front air bags, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact air bags, head curtain air bags protecting all three rows, standard electronic stability control with traction control and adjustable active front head restraints that help reduce whiplash.

Three-point seat belts hold all occupants in place and second- and third-row headrests are adjustable. Solidifying Veracruz’s safety are the five-star safety ratings in both front and side impact collisions awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Sue Mead
April 6, 2007

Hyundai Looking to Build More Confident Brand

Hyundai Looking To Build More Confident Brand

Hyundai’s Genesis Concept, unveiled at the New York International Auto Show, is a dissertation in sheet metal about where the Seoul, Korea, company sees itself in the North American market.

The car, a production version of which will see the inside of dealer showrooms next year, is a sleek sedan with design suggestive of BMW and Audi. If the car demonstrates how much the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based Hyundai Motor America wants a piece of the near-premium car market, Hyundai marketers say a larger goal is more consideration among consumers and a more confident brand image.

The company’s new VP marketing, Joel Ewanick, who had been group director of brand planning at Hyundai’s erstwhile agency, Richards Group, says the company is counting on the new agency–to be announced next week–to develop a brand essence that transcends the 10-year/100,000-mile Hyundai Advantage warranty for which the company may still be most famous.

He says the company must increase consideration, while building awareness of the breadth of Hyundai’s offerings, which includes three SUVs, four sedans, a minivan and a sports coupe.

“At the end of the day, we are looking for an agency that can bring an idea,” says Ewanick. “We no longer think we need to make model advertising the sole message.”

He says Hyundai branding needs to close a “perception gap” between the truth about Hyundai vehicles and what consumers think they know about a brand that has relied on price and an industry-leading warranty to battled–mostly with success–collective memories of its shaky past.

“It’s one thing for people to be aware of you and another to put you on the list; that’s what we are working for,” he says. “We have had success, but we need to accelerate the momentum.”

Indeed, after several years of brisk growth in U.S. sales and market share, Hyundai’s 2006 sales were flat, though the company posted record sales for the month just passed, with 41,984 vehicles delivered–a 22% increase versus February, and a 57% improvement versus March 2006.

Steve Wilhite, who became Hyundai Motor America’s COO last August, says the company’s brand efforts need to create a mosaic out of discrete brand truths. “Each piece is wonderful by itself, but in the hands of a mosaic artist, you step back and get a much richer picture of what’s going on.”

Pieces he’d like to include in the big picture are safety technology–“The fact that electronic stability control is standard in 70% of our vehicles”; technological innovation, value and financial security via its 10-year warranty. “We are looking for an agency that knows how to tell those stories in the context of Hyundai; we need to be much more brand-centric than model-centric,” he says.

“If we walk through [the Javitz Center], very few people would be able to name all nine of our products. If I went to the prototypical soccer mom and asked her to tell me the name of our minivan, I’d guess one or two percent would know it. Electronic stability control is the single most important new safety technology since the deployment of seat belts. We haven’t told that story.”

He added that the company hasn’t talked about its gains in active and passive safety or its production quality. “It’s a function of a lack of confidence. And it’s gotta change.”

by Karl Greenberg, Friday, Apr 6, 2007 5:00 AM ET

Hyundai Looking At Diesel Lineup

Hyundai looking at diesel lineup

Engines would be hybrid alternative

NEW YORK — Hyundai may offer diesel engines across its U.S. lineup of cars and trucks as an alternative to gasoline-electric hybrids if it can clear cost and technical hurdles, the automaker said Thursday.

Steve Wilhite, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor America, said while Hyundai was developing its own hybrid technology, diesels made better financial sense for its customers.

“The highest priority on my personal wish list is bringing our diesel technology to the United States, and I’d like to bring that across all of our products,” Wilhite said in an interview at the New York auto show. “It just seems like a much more elegant solution to me than a hybrid.”

Every major automaker has been working on new diesel models for the United States as the federal government has finalized strict new emissions rules and lawmakers consider tougher fuel economy standards.

Honda Motor Co. has said it will offer a new diesel engine in 2009, and German automakers have been promising several diesel variants.

Wilhite did not say when he hoped production of Hyundai diesels might start.

Wilhite, who had been global marketing manager for Nissan before taking the Hyundai post in August, said if a diesel option costs about $1,000, it would pay for itself in fuel savings. Diesels and hybrids can post 40% better fuel economy than gasoline engines in some vehicles, but hybrids cost $2,000 to $3,000 more than standard models.

“Fundamentally, you don’t get a payback on a hybrid,” Wilhite said. “In a diesel, you more than cover the premium.”

Wilhite also said that while Toyota Motor Co. has been successful with its Prius hybrid, part of that success has come from government tax incentives and state rules, especially in California, that allow hybrids in carpool lanes.

California ended that benefit last year, and USA Today recently reported that Priuses with permits for carpool lanes were worth $4,000 more on the used car market. Toyota has offered incentives on the Prius this year, and boosted the offers to up to $2,000 on Wednesday.

Hyundai already sells diesel models in Europe and Asia, but Wilhite said the company was still working on ways to meet the strict new U.S. standards.

Wilhite said Hyundai was targeting sales of about 500,000 vehicles in the United States this year, after recording flat sales of 455,000 in 2006. A run-up in the value of the Korean won currency forced Hyundai to raise its prices, which Wilhite said helped transaction prices but stunted sales.

While the company has expanded its lineup steadily and will add a near-luxury, rear-wheel-drive sedan in a couple of years based on the Genesis concept shown at the auto show, Wilhite said he had no desire to jump into the pickup market as Toyota, Honda and Nissan have done.

April 6, 2007

Jaguar, Hyundai to Offer HD Radio

Jaguar, Hyundai to offer HD Radio

Hyundai and Jaguar are adding HD Radio, a digital radio service pioneered by Columbia-based iBiquity Digital, as an option for luxury model vehicles, the automakers said at the New York Auto Show.

HD Radio offers higher quality audio through digital receivers. The two manufacturers are the second and third to adopt the technology — BMW is already including it as an option in its entire 2007 line.

iBiquity launched HD Radio in 2004, and there are 1,200 stations nationwide that broadcast in the format. There are 11 in Maryland.

Radio stations that use HD broadcast both analog and digital signals, so all users can still listen. But HD Radio receivers can produce CD-quality audio because the receivers can sort through interference that occurs when signals bounce off objects, reducing static and fading, according to iBiquity.

Hyundai will include the technology option in its rear-wheel drive sports sedan scheduled for a 2008 release, according to a company release.

Jaguar will offer it in its 2008 luxury XJ sedan.

Baltimore Business Journal – 3:57 PM EDT Thursday, April 5, 2007
by Scott Dance

Hyundai Adds XM as Standard Feature on All-New Veracruz and Future Premium Sports Sedan

Hyundai Adds XM as Standard Feature on All-New Veracruz and Future Premium Sports Sedan

XM also now available on 2007 Azera, Elantra, Santa Fe and Sonata models

NEW YORK, April 5 — XM , the nation’s leading provider of satellite radio with more than 7.6 million subscribers, today announced its continued expansion as a factory-installed, standard feature across the Hyundai vehicle lineup. New vehicles with standard XM include the all-new Veracruz midsize crossover on sale now and Hyundai’s upcoming premium sports sedan. A concept of the future sports sedan was revealed today at the New York International Auto Show.

XM Radio is already a standard, factory-installed feature on all 2007 Azera, Elantra, Santa Fe and Sonata audio systems.

Hyundai customers come to expect unique and innovative style and technology, along with performance, comfort and safety across our diverse product portfolio,” said John Krafcik, vice-president of product development and strategic planning, Hyundai Motor America. “The addition of XM Satellite Radio to these models is yet another great feature to enhance the already excellent value offered by all of Hyundai’s vehicles.”

Hyundai was the first automotive brand to announce plans to make XM Radio standard across the board,” said Steve Cook, executive vice president, Automotive for XM. “The addition of XM’s coast-to-coast programming is another feature to remind Hyundai buyers that they are enjoying one of the best new car values on the market today. By the end of 2007, all Hyundai factory audio systems will feature XM’s 170-plus channels of commercial-free music, news, sports, talk, and entertainment.”

Every Hyundai model equipped with factory-installed XM Radio comes with a three-month trial subscription.

About XM Satellite Radio

XM is America’s number one satellite radio company with more than 7.6 million subscribers. Broadcasting live daily from studios in Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Toronto and Montreal, XM’s 2006 lineup includes more than 170 digital channels of choice from coast to coast: commercial-free music, premier sports, news, talk radio, comedy, children’s and entertainment programming; and the most advanced traffic and weather information.

XM, the leader in satellite-delivered entertainment and data services for the automobile market is available in 140 different vehicle models for 2007 through partnerships with auto manufacturers, including Infiniti. XM’s industry-leading products are available at consumer electronics retailers nationwide. For more information about XM hardware, programming and partnerships, please visit www.xmradio.com.

Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through 755 dealerships nationwide.