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SUV sales

SUVs drive up Hyundai, Kia in US market; G80 named safest car of year

By Dec 31, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai Motor's latest luxury SUV, the Genesis GV80
Hyundai Motor's latest luxury SUV, the Genesis GV80

A slate of new sport utility vehicles are driving up Hyundai Motor Group's market share in the US, where its two automaking units have relied on sedan-heavy lineups to boost their profile.

According to US auto research firm Wards Intelligence, the combined US market share of Hyundai Motor Co. and its sister firm Kia Motors Corp. rose to 8.6% in the first 11 months of the year, up from 7.8% in the same period of 2019. The latest reading marks their highest market share since 2012's 8.7%.

The gain comes as their rivals such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan struggle to grow in the North American market under the impact of the pandemic.

Hyundai Motor's Palisade
Hyundai Motor's Palisade


Analysts say the recent strength was driven by the release in 2019 of two new SUVs – Hyundai’s Palisade and Kia’s Telluride – that have received favorable reviews from drivers. Hyundai Motor’s subcompact SUV, the Venue, has also appealed to younger and budget-conscious buyers.

Hyundai and Kia sold a combined 692,698 SUVs in the US in the January-November period, up 3.6% from the year-earlier period. Their SUV lineups in the US doubled to 12 models from six nameplates five years ago.

Of the Korean automakers’ total US sales, SUVs, including the separate luxury brand Genesis, accounted for 62.9% in the cited period, compared to 55.4% in the January-November period of 2019.

Kia Motors' Telluride
Kia Motors' Telluride

Hyundai’s pricier luxury brands such as the Genesis G80 sedan and GV80 SUV model also helped the automaker gain ground in the American market.

The share of Hyundai Motor customers with an annual household income of more than $100,000 was 43% this year, up from 33% five years ago. For Kia Motors, that share has risen to 36% from 23%.

In the European market, the two carmakers are expected to see their market share rise above 7% for the first time in the near future.

“We were able to supply SUVs to global markets in a timely manner as our plants in Korea were less affected by the pandemic-driven lockdown,” said a Hyundai official.


Hyundai Motor's Genesis G80 sedan
Hyundai Motor's Genesis G80 sedan

Meanwhile, Hyundai’s G80 sedan under its luxury brand Genesis was named the safest car of 2020 by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Dec. 31.

Of 10 local and imported brands that earned the first grade in safety, the G80 got the highest score of 97.3

The G80, the premium brand’s core model, scored big for various safety features, including its active hood system for pedestrian protection.

Write to Sun A Lee and Il-Gue Kim at

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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