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by David Zalstein

Despite Hyundai capping its global capacity at close to seven million vehicles for 2012, figures suggest sales in the US alone could reach 700,000 this year.

Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo (pictured below) is credited with driving Hyundai’s focus on improved quality since he took the reins in 2000, and consumers appear to have noticed his efforts.

Hyundai sold 645,691 cars and SUVs in the US in 2011, a 20 per cent increase over 2010.

Figures from Hyundai America show a 13 per cent rise in sales for March compared with last year, giving the Korea-based manufacturer an all-time monthly record of 69,728 units.

The news isn’t all positive, however, with Hyundai’s 2012 first quarter share of the US new-car market ending at 4.7 per cent, down from last year’s 5.1 per cent.

But Hyundai Motor America president John Krafcik believes the slide is unlikely to continue, telling Reuters that despite US dealerships starting March with 55,000 vehicles, Hyundai actually sold 70,000 vehicles for the month, and the pattern appears to be playing out again in April.

“We are literally selling cars off the transporters,” Krafcik said. “As Hyundai continues to offer more fuel-efficient vehicles, we are seeing more and more consumers in our showrooms.”

Hyundai Australia also enjoyed a stellar March, with the Korean manufacturer’s achieving its best ever March sales result since 1986, when the brand was introduced into Australia. The 9.5 per cent increase over March 2011 gave Hyundai its 12th consecutive month of year-on-year growth.

While Mazda is the highest-selling full-line importer in Australia, Hyundai and Nissan both have eyes on the top spot.