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SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller sister company Kia Motors Corp. will recall more than 2 million vehicles in South Korea and the United States for problems in brake light switches and airbags, company officials said Thursday.
The massive recall comes as Hyundai and Kia, the flagships of Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest carmaker, are seeking to improve their quality as part of efforts to raise their brand images and eventually compete with global premium brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
In South Korea, Hyundai is recalling about 110,000 units of Avante compacts, Santa Fe and Veracruz crossover vehicles produced between September 2008 and June 2011 to fix brake light switches, the officials said.
Kia also is recalling about 50,000 units of Carens compact multi-purpose vehicles, Sorento mid-size crossovers and Soul box cars built between June 2010 and June 2011 to fix the same problem, the officials said.
Hyundai and Kia took the voluntary steps as a precaution, though no accidents or injuries have occurred in South Korea or the U.S. due to defects in brake light switches.
The move came hours after Hyundai announced that it is recalling about 1.059 million cars in the U.S. to fix problems with brake light switches.
The recall affects seven models, including the Santa Fe, Tucson and Veracruz crossover vehicles, and Sonata sedans and Genesis Coupes built in South Korea and the U.S. between 2007 and 2011.
Kia also said it is recalling 623,638 units in six models, including Sorento mid-size crossovers and the Soul box cars built in South Korea and the U.S. between 2007 and 2011.
Separately, Hyundai said it is recalling 186,254 Elantra compacts produced between 2011 and 2013 to fix an air bag problem.
The massive recall comes more than a month after Hyundai recalled 6,100 additional Veloster hatchbacks sold in the U.S. for panorama sunroofs that could shatter.
In December, Hyundai recalled about 13,500 Velosters in the U.S. and 1,297 Velosters in South Korea for the same safety concern over the panoramic sunroofs.
The latest recall is a public relations disaster for Hyundai and Kia. It comes just a week after Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo told shareholders that his group "will maintain the position of a leading global company by renovating our brand through quality."
It also comes as sales of Hyundai and Kia cars showed signs of recovery in the U.S last month.
Hyundai Motor sold 68,306 vehicles in the United States in March, up 30.6 percent from a month ago. Kia Motors sold 49,125 units in the U.S. last month, up 18.4 percent from a month ago.
Hyundai and Kia ranked seventh in terms of sales in the U.S. in March as their combined market share accounted for 8.1 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. last month, according to Hyundai.
It was not immediately clear how the planned massive recall in the U.S. will affect sales of Hyundai and Kia cars.
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