Hyundai said it aimed to sell 152,000 revamped Santa Fe SUVs globally this year, as it seeks to hold off a surge from high-end foreign brands at home.
The Santa Fe is Hyundai’s sole model to be launched globally this year and comes as its domestic car sales are increasingly under pressure after Seoul signed free trade agreements with Europe and the United States that have boosted international automakers’ access to South Korea’s formerly sheltered market.
The new Santa Fe is scheduled to launch in June in Europe, in the United States in July and in China in October.
Hyundai said it was targeting sales of 385,000 Santa Fe models in 2013. Last year, the SUV was Hyundai’s No. 7 best-seller in Europe with sales down 1.4 percent to 13,549 from 2010, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics.
“We are confident about positioning Santa Fe as premium model both at home and in the overseas markets,” Hyundai CEO Kim Choong-ho told reporters after the company unveiled the new-look model. “It boasts very competitive fuel mileage and a bold design.”
The third-generation Santa Fe was unveiled at the New York auto show and is the first upgrade in seven years. It completes Hyundai’s attempt to introduce a new design dubbed “fluidic sculpture” to its extensive product lineups for a distinctive Hyundai look, a breakaway from the past’s quiet and bland design.
The design concept, which features arched lines from the front-center of the car to the end, was first introduced to its flagship Sonata mid-sized sedan in 2009, and is also applied to the Elantra compact and Azera large-sized sedan.
In a separate announcement, Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik confirmed that the all-new seven-passenger 2013 Santa Fe will replace the Veracruz model. “The Veracruz is going away,” Krafcik told Autoblog. “It ends production around November.”
The seven-passenger Veracruz was a new nameplate for Hyundai when it rolled out in 2007. It never gained much acceptance in the U.S., so Hyundai has found a new way around that problem.