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The Dude
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JEJU, South Korea -- Hyundai Motor Co. is likely to experience its first annual decline in U.S. car sales in a decade and expects another drop next year as the world's largest vehicle market suffers from broad-based economic woes, executives said.

"The whole automobile industry is in a difficult situation," said Choi Jae-kook, president of Hyundai Motor. However, he said the company has benefited from shifting customer demand toward small, fuel-efficient cars over fuel-guzzling ones, amid high oil prices.

Hyundai sold 337,664 vehicles in the U.S. through the first nine months of the year, down 5.8% from a year earlier. The company aimed to sell 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. by year end, but sales are now likely to fall below last year's level of 467,000 vehicles.

Nevertheless, the company has gained market share as overall U.S. sales have fallen about 20% this year. In September, when overall U.S. sales dropped 27%, Hyundai's U.S. sales fell 25%.

Over the weekend, Hyundai rolled out its first rear-wheel drive sports car, called Genesis Coupe, which goes on sale in South Korea immediately. It will be shipped to other parts of Asia and the Middle East later this year and arrive in the U.S. in March.

The company invested 182.5 billion won ($160 million) in development of the coupe, which is built on the same chassis as the Genesis sedan that Hyundai began selling earlier this year.

Two gasoline models of a two-liter engine and a 3.8-liter engine will be available Monday in South Korea at a starting price of 23.2 million won. U.S. sales prices will be between $20,000 and $25,000 for the two models.

Source Wall Street Journal
 

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