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While new utility vehicle pits Hyundai against Kia

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Aug 24,2004
The two subsidiaries of Hyundai Motor Group are going head to head in the compact sport utility vehicle market; they are competing with two models that have virtually identical specifications. Kia Motors Corp. launched the New Sportage on Aug. 17, while Hyundai Motor Co. put the Tucson on the market in March. The two models use the same diesel engine and main components. The target consumers of the two models are also identical: young women in their 20s and 30s. The two cars boast similar fuel efficiency: the Tucson can go 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) per liter, while the New Sportage gets 14.6 kilometers per liter. They both generate 115 horsepower. Prices are in the same range. The cheapest version of the Tucson JX costs 14.5 million won ($12,540), while the New Sportage LX costs 14.7 million won. Neither Hyundai nor Kia will yield the sport utility vehicle market to the other. The market has accounted for 31 percent of the sales of both Hyundai’s and Kia’s passenger cars this year through last month. “The compact sport utility vehicle category is almost the only sector of the automobile market where sales are booming, thanks to high oil prices and the five-day workweek system, despite sluggish domestic consumption,” an industry observer said. This is not the first time the two “brothers” have been “enemies.” Kia’s Optima, launched in July 2000, and Hyundai’s New EF Sonata, rolled out in January 2001, competed fiercely. Both used the same engine and platform. At that time, Hyundai overwhelmed Kia, but Kia says the situation is different now. “Kia’s recognition in the sport utility vehicle market no longer lags behind Hyundai’s,” an official at Kia insisted. “The New Sportage has special strengths in design and interior; its competitiveness is strong,” he said. But a Hyundai Motor official argued that Hyundai’s brand equity is much stronger than Kia’s, if the potential buyer factors in the price when he sells the vehicle. The number of contracts for the New Sportage stood at 10,366 as of Monday, while those for the Tucson reached 38,215 as of Sunday. by Hong Joo-yun


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