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The Dude
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By Soyoung Kim

DETROIT, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) sold 20 percent more cars in the United States in the first 10 days of January compared to a year earlier, driven by a program that allows new buyers to return cars, its U.S. sales chief said on Monday.

Hyundai, whose U.S. sales dropped 48 percent in December, this month rolled out the first incentive program for U.S. consumers that would allow them to return vehicles if they lose their jobs.

"The initial response from consumers surprised us," David Zuchowski, vice president of sales for Hyundai America, told Reuters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Industrywide, Zuchowski said the U.S. market is likely to come in at about 10.5 million units in January on the annualized basis, little changed from December's depressed levels which marked 26-year lows.

Hyundai's U.S. sales fell 14 percent in 2008, slightly better than the market's 18 percent decline.

To adjust to lower market demand and reduce "heavy inventory" at dealerships, Zuchowski said Hyundai would adjust workweeks and working hours at its U.S. assembly plant in Alabama.

Hyundai aims to reduce its U.S. inventory to 75 to 90 days of supply, from the current 110 days, he added.

Zuchowski expected the South Korean automaker to continue to increase U.S. market share in 2009, and added it would advertise on this year's Academy Awards and the Super Bowl, even as automakers like General Motors Corp (GM.N) pull back from high-profile marketing.

Hyundai took car-of-the-year award at the Detroit auto show on Sunday with its Genesis sedan, marking a major step for the South Korean automaker in its push to produce a more upscale, mass-market vehicle for U.S. consumers.

The Genesis, Hyundai's most expensive vehicle that starts at $33,000, represents the South Korean automaker's attempt to improve the image of a brand that got its U.S. start as a builder of entry-level cars with long warranties.
 

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Very nice. I'm wondering if its just that more and more people are seeing Hyundai as a very good alternative to the more expensive imports or if people are attracted to the incentives. I've said it before but in this economy if you can get a car that is on par or better for cheaper, people will eventually go to the cheaper car. People are all about getting the most bang for the buck, they want value and quality all and Hyundai represents that very well.



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