Hyundai's Sonata sets another sales record.

Even with a big weekend to go, sales of the Hyundai Sonata have already an all-time record, surpassing the 225,961 sales the midsize sedan logged in its record-setting performance last year. Sonata joins the Elantra, Veloster, Genesis, and Equus in setting all-time sales records for Hyundai in 2012, the maker confirmed.

Significantly, the maker has shown little sign of losing sales momentum despite word last month that it — and Korean sibling Kia — had fudged their fuel economy numbers.

With the year wrapping up at a significantly hotter pace than most analysts had anticipated, Hyundai is by no means alone. Among the makers who have been setting sales records in recent months are Audi, BMW, Porsche and Subaru. And more likely will join the list when December sales are tallied.

Car sales this month are expected to grow by better than 10% — and possibly more than 15% — despite wavering consumer confidence brought on by a lack of a budget and tax deal in Washington D.C.

Hyundai executives were also quick to point out while the midsize segment as a whole experienced a significant 20% growth in fleet sales (primarily rental cars) in 2012, Sonata’s record sales this year come with a lower fleet mix and fewer rental car sales than last year — dropping from an 11% fleet mix in 2011 to a projected 9% in 2012. In the segment, only the Honda Accord had a lower fleet mix.

“Sonata’s redesign in early 2010 demonstrated that mid-size sedans that paired bold design and fuel-efficiency with long-time segment essentials such as roominess, safety and durability could really break through,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. “We’d like to think Sonata helped spur on the latest generation of bolder mid-size sedans, and we’re happy to see that this new competition hasn’t dented Sonata retail sales, which are now running third behind only Camry and Accord in December.”

Krafcik also said Sonata’s retail sales mix reflects the strength of its segment-first all-four-cylinder powertrain offering, including the well-equipped GLS, sport-focused SE, premium Limited, and fuel-efficient Hybrid. Through November, 52% of Sonata sales were GLS, 18% SE, 22% Limited, and 8% Hybrid. Performance enthusiasts drove the mix of the 274-horsepower 2.0T turbo-charged model, available on both SE and Limited, to 13% of retail Sonata sales.

Sonata’s on-going sales success has been accompanied with not only low fleet mix but also very low incentive spending, yielding some of the highest residual values in the segment. According to Autodata, Sonata incentive spending through November is the lowest of all the top-ten best-selling mid-size sedans at just $1,350 per vehicle, more than 40 percent below segment average.

Mid-size segment fleet sales will represent about 21% of total mid-size car sales in 2012. Most competitors, including those with all-new models, significantly increased sales to rental car companies and other fleets in 2012.

Significantly, Hyundai sales, overall, have showed little signs of faltering despite the early-November revelation that the maker had fudged fuel economy testing procedures. Along with sibling Korean Kia, the two have since been forced to roll back stated mileage for 13 different models by as much as 6 mpg.


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