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Hyundai recalling Sonatas with lock malfunction

Feb 25,2010
Hyundai Motor’s 2011 YF Sonata will be subject to a recall due to a locking malfunction. Provided by the company
Hyundai Motor plans a voluntary recall of 2011 YF Sonata sedans in Korea and the United States due to malfunctions with front-door locks, Hyundai said yesterday. The recall affects 46,000 cars in Korea and 5,000 in the U.S.

“We put utmost priority on the safety of our customers and decided on the recall,” Hyundai said in a statement.

Hyundai will notify the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of Korea this week and start the recall next month, Hyundai said.

The recall targets YF Sonata sedans manufactured in Korea before Dec. 6 as well as units produced at Hyundai’s U.S. plant in Montgomery, Alabama, before Feb. 16. The recall is limited to vehicles made prior to the specific dates because the automaker said it already replaced the faulty components on vehicles produced later.

The front-door lock malfunction could prevent front-seat passengers from opening their doors or doors from closing properly.

A Hyundai spokesperson said that “the defect would not cause danger directly to passengers.”

All 46,000 cars involved in the Korean recall had been sold while only 1,300 of the 5,000 vehicles subject to the U.S. recall were already in the hands of customers. Sale of the involved vehicles has been suspended.

Hyundai has already begun shipping replacement door latches to dealers and expects to resume the sale of the models “within days,” Hyundai said. Hyundai’s flagship sedan went on sale earlier this month in the United States while the vehicle was launched in Korea last September.

The decision to order the recall came less than a day after the U.S. magazine AutoWeek reported that Hyundai Motor America suspended the sale of some 2011 YF Sonata vehicles due to a front-door locking malfunction.

The decision by Korea’s leading automaker came at a sensitive time. Japan’s Toyota Motor has ordered a worldwide recall of over 10 million cars due to defective brake systems.

In the wake of Toyota’s problems, Hyundai’s U.S. sales rose 24.4 percent to 30,503 units in January from the same period a year ago.

Analysts say it is too early to say whether the recall will affect Hyundai’s sales in the United States. “The defect with the Hyundai Sonata is not as serious, though the market is reacting sensitively to the recall because of the massive recall by Toyota,” said Park Young-ho, a senior analyst at Daewoo Securities.

Only last week, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata earned the Top Safety Pick award from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To qualify for the award, a vehicle must earn the highest rating on the agency’s front, side, rear and rollover tests and be equipped with electronic stability control.

The price of Hyundai’s shares fell more than 4 percent in early trading yesterday but later recovered some ground, closing the day down 2.56 percent at 114,000 won ($98.80).


By Limb Jae-un [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]



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