Hyundai’s i45 is known as the Sonata in the United States and it clearly represents a big threat to Japanese automakers, if recent comments by executives from Toyota and Honda are to be taken seriously.
The latest generation Sonata was released in the US back in January 2010 and at year’s end had already notched up sales of 196, 623 units, which was a massive 64 percent increase on 2009 sales.
Toyota executives in the United States are clearly concerned by the speed at which the Korean carmaker is moving when Yoshimi Inaba, COO of Toyota North America, said in a recent statement to the Bloomberg Network,
“Sonata has become a very honourable contender in the market. We do have good respect for the model and these figures show it’s increasing quite a bit.”
There was even more praise from Honda’s Keitaro Yamamoto in Tokyo, when he told Bloomberg,
“We recognise that the Korean models are very competitive because of their good quality and affordable price. Before it was Accord verses Camry, but it’s definitely becoming Accord verses Camry verses Sonata.”
From the list of best selling cars in the United States this year, the Toyota Camry remains in the top spot with sales of 147, 469 units. The number two position is held by the Honda Accord with 137, 146 sales. Sonata on the other hand is in ninth position with year to date sales of 115, 014 units, but that’s just 32, 455 units behind Camry and only 22, 132 cars behind Accord’s number two spot.
I sincerely doubt that the Japanese could have predicted such rapid progress of both Hyundai and Kia, but they are certainly paying them some attention now and that can only mean more competition and subsequently better products all round for buyers.