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by Tim Beissmann

The boss of Hyundai USA admits the brand needs a third SUV and has highlighted the burgeoning sub-compact crossover market as a priority.

Hyundai Motor America president and CEO John Krafcik told reporters the brand had failed to take advantage of the country’s hunger for SUVs, with just a two per cent share of the nation’s truck segment that includes crossovers, SUVs and pick-ups.

“We are very under-represented,” Krafcik said, as reported by Edmunds.

“We lead the industry in sedans, we have a bunch of them, but if you look at our crossover line, we [only] have two nameplates, the Tucson [ix35] and the Santa Fe.”

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Hyundai says it has been struggling to keep up with demand for the new Santa Fe, which launched in the US in five-door form in the second half of 2013 and as a long-wheelbase seven-seater earlier this year.

Krafcik said there was no new SUV in the pipeline for Hyundai USA at this stage, but suggested a sub-compact crossover to rival the likes of the Ford EcoSport and Chevrolet/Holden Trax was an obvious next step for the brand.

“Our growth potential in where we might want to put future products probably would be on the crossover side of the table.

“It seems sort of obvious. I mean, if you slice the data, that is where you would want to look.

“I think it is something that we have to look at. We don’t have any plans, [but] it does seem like there is a lot of action in stuff below RAV4– and Tucson-sized vehicles. A new segment is emerging.”

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Hyundai unveiled the HB20X crossover (pictured) at last year’s Sao Paulo motor show. The city-sized SUV was designed primarily for Brazil, though Hyundai director of global public relations Frank Ahrens told CarAdvice at last year’s New York auto show the model had potential to be adapted for other markets.

“It’s pretty cute, I have to say, and it’s smaller than Tucson,” Ahrens said.

“It will have the same high safety crash standards. It will have surprising amenities that you don’t expect. We don’t want our features to be just in the highest model, we want them to be in the bottom.

“If that works there [in Brazil] – and I think it will be pretty popular in Latin America – we’ll export it throughout Latin America and take a look at other markets around the world.”

CarAdvice yesterday reported that the sub-Tiguan-sized Up!-based Volkswagen Taigun is all but confirmed to join the booming segment, with production set to start by 2016.




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