New models boost sales of full-size cars in February

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- Launching of new models has fueled sales of full-size cars in February, industry data showed Tuesday.

Figures released by local carmakers showed sales of flagship sedans and full-size vehicles going up sharply last month on-year, with demand for the new Genesis premium sedan and the Grandeur hybrid models playing a role in attracting consumers.

Combined sales of local flagship models -- Hyundai Motor Co.'s Equus and Genesis, Kia Motors Corp.'s K9 and Ssangyong Motor Co.'s Chairman W and Chairman H models -- hit 5,831 units, up more than two-fold from the year before.

Comparable figure for full-size, near-luxury models such as the Hyundai's Grandeur, Kia K7 and GM Korea Co.'s Alpheon reached 16,147 units, up close to 26 percent from a year earlier. The Grandeur is sold as the Azera in some overseas markets, while the K7 sports the Cadenza name in countries like the United States.

Of the larger-size cars, sales of the new Genesis was the most pronounced with sales hitting 4,164 units last month, a whopping 342 percent surge from a year earlier, industry data showed. The car that made its debut in the country late last year is the first iteration of Hyundai Motor Co.'s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language.

The Grandeur, helped by the recent launch of the hybrid model, sold 7,496 units in February, making it the best-selling car in the country for the second-straight month.

Market watchers said the increase was helped by the fact that midsize models sold in the country have become "staid," making them less attractive to car buyers wanting something new.

Others said signs that the economy may make modest gains this year may be affecting buying patterns.

To capitalize on local consumer's love for large cars, Hyundai said it plans to unveil another model that will be slotted above its Grandeur sedan late this year or early next year.

"It will be a totally new car," a corporate source, who declined to be identified, said. However, he declined to say whether it will be a front wheel drive vehicle like the Grandeur, or have the rear-wheel drive premium architecture of the Genesis and Equus.

Watchers said the launch of the seventh-generation Sonata may attract more consumers to midsize cars again. The car will reach the South Korean market in the next few months and be sold in the overseas markets such as the United States in the second half of the year.

Hyundai announced earlier in the day that it aims to redraw the map on the mid-size car market with the new Sonata.

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