South Korean car makers plan big push at Geneva Motor Show

Hyundai i30 wagon

South Korean car makers aim to expand their global market share, revealing new vehicles and concepts during next month’s Geneva International Motor Show, according to analysis by IHS Automotive.

Hyundai plans to reveal the next-generation i30 wagon. Kia will showcase the Stinger GT sedan and Morning hatchback. Ssangyong plans to showcase its XAVL SUV concept.

The South Korean car makers are focusing on expanding their alternative-fuel vehicle line-ups to capture market share in the segment globally.

According to IHS Automotive, light-vehicle powertrain forecasts, production of plug-in vehicles, which include EVs and PHEVs, will grow to 75,109 units in South Korea in 2017, up from an estimated 19,960 in 2016.



Hyundai plans to showcase the next-generation i30 wagon during the show, according to a company press release. The car maker revealed the details of the new wagon vehicle this week, highlighting the sibling to the existing five-door hatchback variant released in 2016. The new i30 measures 4585mm in length, 1795 mm in width and 1465 mm in height. The vehicle has a wheelbase of 2650mm.

The vehicle is powered by a choice of four engines. The entry unit is a 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol engine that produces 88kWh and above this is a 1.4-litre petrol engine that churns out 103kWhr.

The diesel line-up consists of three versions of the same 1.6-litre engine that produce 70, 80.5, and 97.7kWh. Transmission details were not revealed by the car maker. The next-generation i30 hatchback was revealed in September 2016.



Kia plans to showcase the new Stinger GT four-door fastback sedan and Morning hatchback, also known as the Picanto. Kia first revealed the new Stinger at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

The vehicle takes the look of a Kia GT concept revealed at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, with its design overseen by Kia chief designer Peter Schreyer. During NAIAS, Kia said the Stinger would be offered with two engine options – a 2.0-litre turbocharged Theta II four-cylinder engine or a 3.3-litre twin-turbo Lambda V6 II engine – which are still under development.

Later on, the car maker announced that it planned to add two more powertrain options to the vehicle. Kia plans to add a 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine, currently offered in the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, to the Stinger. The car omaker also plans to introduce an electric powertrain option to the Stinger. It first plans a hybrid version followed by a pure electric version.

Meanwhile, Kia has revealed images of its next-generation Morning hatchback and started accepting bookings for the vehicle in South Korea in January 2017. The new Morning gains a 15mm longer wheelbase than the outgoing car, taking it to 2400mm, while its length remains unchanged at 3595mm. The images revealed that the vehicle featured new exterior and interior designs, including light-emitting diode (LED) headlights and tail-lights.



Ssangyong plans to showcase the seven-seat eXciting Authentic Vehicle Long (XAVL) concept sport utility vehicle (SUV) during the Geneva show, according to Autocar. The concept vehicle is the next iteration of the XAV concept showcased during the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. The vehicle is inspired from the second-generation Korando model. The vehicle is expected to be powered by both petrol and diesel engines. The teaser images of the vehicle reveal that the vehicle has bold and aggressive lines, large bumpers, and LED headlamps and tail lamps.


Outlook and implications

South Korean car makers aim to increase their global market share. Hyundai and Kia depend on overseas markets for nearly 85 per cent of their sales volumes and have faced severe pressure from rising competition from global car makers and sluggish economies in emerging markets. The duo plans to bring out new vehicles, with a specific focus on SUVs and alternative-powertrain vehicles, to expand global market share this year.

The duo is now targeting combined global sales of 8.25 million units in 2017. This year's target represents modest growth of 1.5 per cent year-on-year. The Hyundai brand is aiming to sell 5.08 million units and Kia 3.17 million in global markets.

Light-vehicle sales forecasts from IHS Markit show the Hyundai Group, including the Hyundai, Kia, Genesis, and China-only Horki and Shouwang brands, will register 1.2 per cent year-on-year growth in global sales to 7.84 million units in 2017, up from an estimated 7.74 million in 2016.

IOHS forecasts Hyundai will post sales of 4.81 million units, up 2.7 per cent year-on-year globally this year, while Kia sales are predicted to slip 1.6 per cent year-on-year to 2.99 million. Hyundai's Genesis brand is expected to record sales of 42,545 units, up 33.9 per cent year-on-year in 2017; sales of the Horki and Shouwang brands are predicted at a combined 1976 units.

For 2017, Ssangyong aims to achieve a 3.5 per cent year-on-year increase in its global sales to 161,000 units. The car maker expects this growth to come on the back of the rising popularity of its Tivoli nameplate. Ssangyong did not provide a breakdown of its expected 2017 sales by market.

The car maker will continue to focus on the Tivoli nameplate and plans to launch a new premium SUV, currently codenamed the Y400. It plans to release a new model each year until 2019.

Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian parent company of Ssangyong, is considering an investment of around KRW1 trillion to increase Ssangyong's annual global sales to 300,000 units by 2021. The car maker also said it plans to reduce its costs this year.

IHS forecasts global sales of Ssangyong's light vehicles will grow by 9.7 per cent year-on-year to 166,326 units in 2017, up from an estimated 151,679 in 2016. The total is expected to cross 200,000 units by 2020.


Alternative fuel

South Korean car makers are also focusing on expanding their alternative-fuel vehicle line-ups. Hyundai plans to release an all-electric SUV in the first half of 2018. The new SUV is being developed under the OS Electric Vehicle project. The car maker is expected to launch a hydrogen-powered SUV and commercial bus by 2018.

Hyundai also plans to introduce a 320km-range version of the pure-electric Ioniq sedan by 2018. Ioniq is the first model introduced by the car maker with an alternative-fuel powertrain with variants including a regular hybrid and a pure electric vehicle. Currently, the Ioniq's range in pure-electric mode is 250km.

In November 2016, the car maker announced plans to introduce 14 new alternative-fuel vehicles – five hybrid vehicles, four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), four EVs, and one fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) – in the USA by 2020. Hyundai will launch sales of the Ioniq Electric in markets such as the USA from April this year.

The all-electric model will cost about US$30,335 but will qualify for a US Federal Tax discount of $7500, bringing down its price. Meanwhile, the Ioniq PHEV will launch in the USA by the end of the year.

In its home country, Hyundai plans to launch an EV car-sharing service in April. Launching an EV car-sharing business will fuel demand for Hyundai's EVs. The car maker will use the service to enhance market penetration and awareness of its alternative-fuel vehicles and new technologies.

Kia plans to launch a fuel-cell car by end of 2021. The car maker has already showcased the Borrego FCEV based on its parent Hyundai's ix35. But Sae-Hoon Kim, Kia's head of fuel-cell research, has said the new vehicle will not be based on any previous model from the sister brand, but will be designed from the ground up. The new fuel-stack cell will be similar in size to a 2.0-litre combustion engine but will deliver ten per cent more performance. It is expected to have a range of 500km on a single charge and a top speed of 169km/h.

Kia's plan to launch a fuel-cell vehicle is in line with its green car roadmap aimed at developing new technologies targeting eco-friendly vehicle segments. The car maker is also launching an all-electric Niro SUV by 2018.

Ssangyong is planning to launch electrified versions of its existing models by 2020, starting with the Tivoli. According to an Autocar report, battery-powered Tivolis are currently undergoing testing. The car maker is also planning to launch three new cars by the end of this decade, each expected to have an electric-powertrain option.

Earlier in 2016, Ssangyong showcased the SIV-2 (Smart Interface Vehicle) hybrid concept at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. This mid-size premium SUV concept features a 1.5-litre direct-injection turbo petrol engine with a 10kWh electric motor, creating a 48V mild-hybrid system. The company at the time claimed the modular chassis on which the car was built could be developed to feature full hybrid, plug-in and full-electric powertrains.

Ssangyong is expected to benefit from the experience of its parent M&M in the EV segment. In its home country, India, M&M has the strongest portfolio of EVs. Since M&M acquired the manufacturer of India's first indigenous electric car, the Reva, and updated it to the e2o, it has launched two more EV models: the e-Verito and e-Supro.

According to IHS Markit light-vehicle powertrain forecasts, production of plug-in vehicles, which include EVs and PHEVs, will grow to 75,109 units in South Korea in 2017, up from an estimated 19,960 in 2016. This is expected to increase further to more than 107,000 units by 2020. It also forecasts that South Korea's annual output of FCEVs, which are new technology, will grow to 2856 units by 2020, up from 682 in 2016.

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