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Hot War of New Cars in Korea
New models are flooding into the Korean market, giving Korean consumers more choices
Hot War of New Cars in Korea
  • By matthew
  • November 15, 2009, 00:00
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IN the second half of this year, new cars are flooding into the market. Korean and foreign automakers are competing neck and neck with new models. In late October, as if to add oil to the fire, Toyota began its offensive to seize a big market share in Korea.

Moreover, car sales in September hit a record monthly high thanks to strong popularity of new models and the government tax relief for those who buy new cars. Automobile experts expect strong car sales to continue until the year-end.

In the Korean market, Hyundai Motor is definitely the frontrunner. The automaker launched the 2010 Sonata to continue to take the lead. The 2010 Sonata adopts Hyundai’s new “fluidic sculpture” design language, boasts outstanding performance with the segment- leading safety features and fuel efficiency. Incorporating state-of-the-art technologies, the new Sonata will further elevate the Hyundai brand.

Sonata has been a best-seller in the Korea car market since its first generation model was launched in 1985. The sixth-generation Sonata will continue this successful tradition with impeccable quality seen today in other Hyundai premium models, such as the Genesis and EQUUS.

Hyundai began developing the new Sonata in 2005 under the codename YF (Note: The car may be launched under a different name in some regions). The project took 4 years and 450 billion won to go from concept to customer.

Applying a new design aesthetic of “fluidic sculpture,” the 2010 Sonata pursues a younger and sensuous image in its interior and exterior profiles. Inspired by nature, the “fluidic sculpture” tries to reflect sophistication and dynamism in the shape of the vehicle and will serve as the core of Hyundai’s future design identity.

The outer design of the new Sonata exudes a voluminous look that creates character through the refined and harmonized lines. The interior has a dynamic look that matches the exterior while not compromising comfort or convenience. The Sonata is available in nine exterior colors, from Remington Red to Blue Black to Espresso, satisfying the diverse tastes of younger customers. In particular, the new Sonata delivers powerful performance through its 2-liter Theta II MPi gasoline engine (max output: 165ps, max torque: 20kg·m). Delivering the highest fuel economy in its segment at 12.8 kilometers per liter, its fuel economy is more than 11% improved compared with the previous model. Furthermore, all engines are offered with a new six-speed automatic transmission for heightened performance. To meet the most stringent automotive safety and crash requirements, the Sonata is built with hot-stamped ultra high-strength steel while featuring six standard airbags. In addition, safety has been upgraded with standard Vehicle Dynamic Control including Hill-start Assist Control and Brake Assist System functions, an industry first in this competitive segment.

The new Sonata has been selling like hot cakes as the government will stop giving tax reliefs to new car buyers at the close of this year. The new Sonata has been really taking off among new models. 55,000 Sonatas were ordered only 15 days after the start of its sales on September 17.

Hyundai Motor also pushes forward stronger sales of the all-new Tucson ix. The compact sports utility vehicle has sweeping coupe-like lines and comes with features unavailable on its predecessor. With the start of Tucson ix sales in the Korean market, Hyundai aims to set the trend for the segment and regain sales leadership in the small SUV market.

Its revolutionary features begin with the exterior styling which is based on the bold ixonic concept shown at Geneva Motor Show in March. The power output, fuel-efficiency, comfort and safety features have been all upgraded. Known by the project name LM, it took 36 months and 280 billion won (approx. US$225 million) to develop.

The all-new Tucson ix comes with a twolitre engine: either the all-new diesel R or gasoline Theta-II and is fitted with Hyundai’s all-new six-speed automatic transmission.

The diesel engine meets the Euro-5 emissions standards and achieves 15.4 kilometers per liter fuel economy with maximum power output of 184 horsepower. The gasoline engine has a fuel economy of 11.7 kilometers per liter with 166 horsepower. The diesel engine is offered in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel drive configurations, while gasoline engine is available only in frontwheel- drive.

Korean retail prices of the diesel edition (2WD) fitted with automatic transmission will begin at 21 million won with the top-ofthe- line model costing 27 million won inclusive of taxes. Gasoline versions will start at about 19 million won and will top out at 24 million won.

Hyundai is aiming for sales of 16,000 units of the new Tucson ix this year in the Korean market and 40,000 units annually starting next year. Beginning in the year of 2011, Hyundai predicts its sales to reach 300,000 units globally, with 260,000 units sold in the overseas market.

In October, Toyota began to make a foray into the Korean car market with Camry Sedan, Camry Hybrid, Prius and the RAV4. The Japanese automaker has sold its Lexus models on the Korean market since 2001. Toyota Korea has adopted an aggressive price policy by making its vehicles cheaper than those of most of imported cars.

Therefore, the Japanese automaker is expected to secure a bigger-than-expected market share, threatening frontrunner Hyundai Motor with competitive prices. Toyota Korea set the prices of the Camry, the Camry Hybrid and the Prius at 34.9 million won, 45.9 million won and 37.9 million won, respectively.

In the meantime, GM Daewoo launched a new model, too. GM Daewoo’s Matiz Creative is enjoying good responses from Korean customers. GM Daewoo has been promoting its all-new global mini-car, the Matiz Creative. The new mini went on sale beginning September 1. In September, GM Daewoo recorded sales of 7,500 units of the Matiz Creative.

Based on GM’s global mini-vehicle architecture, it took 27 months to develop the Matiz Creative. 295 billion won has been invested in the vehicle’s development. Following its launch in Korea, the global mini will be sold in over 150 markets around the world including those in Europe, Asia and North America.

Aimed at meeting the highest quality and performance standards in the most sophisticated markets, the global vehicle was put through over 1 million kilometers of intensive durability tests, extreme weather tests, and crash tests both at home and abroad. With roof-rail curtain air bags and highstrength and ultra-high-strength steel over a majority of its body, the Matiz Creative ensures segment-leading occupant protection. The Matiz Creative offers much more than a mini; a revolutionary design, advanced technology, segment-leading features and benchmark safety.

GM Daewoo says that the Matiz Creative is a car that is ideal for those with an urban lifestyle. With the styling of a sporty hatchback, it showcases the new direction of GM Daewoo design and a new trend in the design of mini-cars. The Matiz Creative’s roomy proportions and dynamic styling are courtesy of its segment-leading length of 3,595 mm, height of 1,520 mm, wheelbase of 2,375 mm, and width of 1,595 mm combined with its “body-in/wheels-out” stance. Dramatically sized headlamps that literally stretch from the front fascia to the back of the hood, with clear polycarbonate lenses and chrome-coated bezels, resemble diamonds, adding an upscale appearance and glamour.

The most striking design element in the interior is a motorcycle-inspired dynamic meter cluster. The first-in-segment steering column-mounted instrument cluster combines analog and digital systems, contributing fun and unique styling as well as enhanced visibility and convenience. A trip computer in the dynamic meter cluster is another first-insegment feature. Newly developed for the next-generation global mini at GM Daewoo, the S-TEC II engine (a 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC engine with a displacement of 1,000 cc) delivers great performance and fuel economy.

The S-TEC II engine includes a series of advanced features that enhance performance. The first-in-segment application of the PDA (Port De-Activation) system ensures high exhaust gas recirculation, resulting in combustion stability at low speeds and optimal performance at high speeds together with improved fuel efficiency. In addition, the PDA system contributes to a reduction in emissions, making the Matiz Creative a truly eco-friendly vehicle that meets the stringent KULEV (Korea Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle) standard.

Another first-in-segment application is an automatic temperature controller inside the engine, which helps improve fuel efficiency by reducing unnecessary heat loss. A dometype long-skirt cylinder block narrows the space between intake valves while the application of four resonators reduces engine noise.

Renault Samsung Motor has come up with new models, too. Among others, the New SM3 is Renault Samsung Motors’ strategic model to fight with other automakers in Korea in 2009 and later. New SM3 delivers a robust image through smooth curves in the front harmonized with a wide but elaborately sculpted side body. Especially the strong lines surrounding the headlamps and broad shoulders over the thick and clear wheel arches are impressive.

While being the biggest size in its segment, New SM3 has achieved 1st grade fuel efficiency (15.0 km/l) through optimal tuning by Renault Samsung Motors based on the fantastic combination of Nissan’s advanced engine and Xtronic Transmission. As the most recently developed engine by Renault- Nissan Alliance with a balance of power and fuel efficiency, the H4M Engine has been praised for its superiority. Within the Renault Group, New SM3 is the first car with such technology applied.

Another main model of Renault Samsung Motor is the new SM5, a family sedan developed on the same platform as the Nissan Teana and the SM7. Featuring best-in-class comfort and safety equipment, the SM5 also boasts elegant, refined styling.

The SM5 focuses on travelling comfort. So the model features an automatic climate control with independent settings for the driver and passenger sides, radio/CD system with fingertip controls on the steering wheel, a satellite navigation system, driver memory seat which automatically adjusts the driver’s seating position, and automatic front windshield wiper with rain sensor.

Mercedes-Benz has been trying to expand its market share in Korea with the new EClass and S-Class models. The E-Class family’s new key features include a drowsiness detection system (Attention Assist), Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Night View Assist Plus, day time LED driving lights, further improved suspension with adaptive shock absorbers and luxury individual rear seats. Mercedes-Benz has improved the already exemplary comfort and safety of the E-Class even further, principally through the use of intelligent bodyshell technology with up to 30 percent greater rigidity, further improved seats and a newly developed suspension whose shock absorbers automatically adjust to the current driving situation. The optional air suspension now works in combination with an electronic damping system.

The outstanding safety and comfort of the E-Class are matched by its environmental compatibility and economy. The four-cylinder engine is direct-injection unit, and consumes up to 23 percent less fuel than before. All the engines for the new E-Class meet the EU5 emission standard.

Along with the engines, the BlueEFFICIENCY for the E-Class is also responsible for fuel savings. Engineers from every development department have worked together to optimise assemblies and components, to save fuel by means of reduced weight, a new form, improved functioning or efficient energy management.

The work done in the wind tunnel was particularly successful, as the resulting drag coefficient of only 0.25 makes the new EClass the world’s most aerodynamically efficient luxury saloon. It betters the already good Cd figure of the preceding model by another four percent, which represents a fuel saving of around 0.25 liters per 100 kilometers when driving at a motorway speed of 130 km/h.

Mercedes-Benz equips the E 250 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY model with the newly developed four-cylinder direct petrol injection engine with a displacement of 1.8 liters, turbo-charging and variable intake and exhaust camshafts. In the E 250 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY (204 hp), maximum torque is now 310 newtonmeters, which represents an increase of more than 26 percent over the previous V6-engine. At the same time the NEDC fuel consumption is reduced by over 20 percent to 7.3 litres per 100 kilometers, equating to 174 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

Korean consumers have been giving good feedback to the New-Generation S-Class of Mercedes Benz, as well. With an even more dynamic design, even more comfort and path-finding innovations, this extensively updated new series of the world’s most successful luxury saloon is reiterating its claim to be the standard for automotive progress. The engine range includes six up-to-date petrol units, which generate the same, high output as in the preceding series and require up to six percent less fuel. The high safety standard typical of the S-Class is further improved by a unique combination of new driver assistance systems, with innovations such as ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection and Adaptive Highbeam Assist. More agility and driving enjoyment is ensured by Direct- Steer and modified Active Body Control with crosswind stabilization for the eight and twelve-cylinder models.