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Toyota Ready to Fight Back With Downsized Turbo Engines

Some help from the Great Gazoo.

by on Jan.19, 2012

The turbocharged, GRMN-tuned Toyota Yaris (sold as the Vitz in Japan).

Toyota is hoping to take a giant leap into the future with the help of the Great Gazoo.  That’s Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring, or GRMN, which partnered with the giant automaker to pull together a turbocharged version of the Toyota Vitz for the recent Tokyo Auto Salon.

The 178-horsepower subcompact – known in much of the rest of the world as the Yaris – is more than a one-off show car, however.  Industry sources say it’s a sign of things to come from Toyota, which has been focusing the major portion of its engineering resources on gas-electric hybrids while most of its key competitors are racing to market with downsized, direct injection turbo engines.

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Turbos may not yield quite the urban fuel economy of a hybrid but they deliver more customer-pleasing performance than the typically anemic hybrid, along with improved highway mileage.  They’re also, typically, a lot cheaper than hybrid systems that depend on more complex driveline components, including expensive battery packs.


Hyundai Hits The 200,000 Mark With Sonata

Sedan also up for North American Car of the Year.

by on Dec.23, 2010

The Hyundai Sonata tops 200,000 sales.

Sales of the Hyundai Sonata have topped 200,000 units, so far this year, making it one of the auto industry’s top success stories of 2010 — and a key factor as the South Korean automaker heads to an all-time sales record.

Hyundai will sell more than 530,000 vehicles in the United States, company officials said, and more than 110,000 in Canada for the first time ever.

“Sonata has delivered some pretty incredible results for us this year,” said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO. “Sonata is the Hyundai brand and it’s appropriate it has led to our best year ever.

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Year-over-year, the launch of the newest version of the Sonata has generated an incremental 90,000-unit increase in sales.  And that’s just in the U.S.

“The Sonata has been an integral part of Hyundai’s transformation in Canada,” says Steve Kelleher, President and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.

One of the keys to the Sonata’s strong sales is Hyundai’s decision to go with an all-four-cylinder powertrain line-up.  The midsize sedan’s fuel efficiency ratings now set the pace in the segment, with the base powertrain yielding a first-ever 35-mpg highway rating for a non-hybrid, a remarkable 33-mpg highway rating for the turbocharged 2.0T (which packs 274 horsepower, more than any V6 in the segment), and a best-ever 40-mpg highway rating for the breakthrough Sonata Hybrid featuring industry-first lithium-polymer battery technology, Hyundai executives note

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata - the Hybrid shown here - is one of three finalists up for the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy.

The 2.0T, incidentally, generates a segment-leading 137-hp per liter, besting just about every other vehicle in the industry in power-density, from the Buick Regal Turbo at 110-hp per liter to the Lamborghini Murcielago at 98-hp per liter.

Midsize car buyers, meanwhile, aren’t the only ones apparently impressed by the 2011 Hyundai Sonata.  The sedan is one of the three finalists for the prestigious North American Car of the Year trophy.  It’s up against the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, with the results of voting by the 49 NACTOY jurors set to be announced on January 10, 2011, the opening press day of the North American International Auto Show.

Hyundai previously won, in 2009, for the new Genesis sedan.

Hyundai Aims For Half-Million Sales This Year

Korean maker now using lower incentives than Toyota, Honda.

by on Oct.06, 2010

Hyundai is betting demand for the Sonata will only increase with the launch of new turbo and hybrid models in the coming months.

Hyundai expects its sales to exceed 500,000 units for the first time this year with the help from strong sales of the red-hot Sonata.

The percentage of consumers considering a Hyundai product is steadily increasing, according to John Krafcik, Hyundai Motors America president and chief executive officer. The percentage of light vehicle intenders looking for a Hyundai was only 7% at the end of 2000. Today, that has risen to 33%, Krafcik said.

“We’ll set an all-time sales record this year, passing 500,000 units,” he added, noting the increase in sales has been paced by the successful launch of the Sonata, which is winning buyers in the highly competitive mid-sized car segment.

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In fact for the four-month period from May through August, the Sonata was the top model shopped market-wide, Krafcik said, citing various industry data.

Hyundai’s market share has continued to grow, he added.  The South Korean automaker’s overall market share is currently 4.8%, more than twice that of Mazda and ahead of Volkswagen, as well.  The expansion has been based a steady growth at the retail level not through fleet sales like some of its competitors.