A fuel-cell version of the popular Hyundai Tucson went on sale in the U.S. market last summer.

Hyundai Motor Co. and its sibling Kia Motors Corp. are collectively heading for an all-time sales record of 8 million this year.

On the downside, Hyundai is facing serious pressure on earnings as the Korean won gains strength. That creates a disadvantage when compared to Japanese rivals who have watched earnings soar on the weak yen.

“The market still does not look rosy,” Chung Mong Koo, who serves as chairman of both Hyundai and Kia, said in the statement. “Let’s overcome the unfavorable market situation and show our automobile industry’s competence.”

Hyundai and Kia have been nudging into the top ranks of the auto industry – though the Korean brands still lag well behind industry leader Toyota, which is expected to top 10 million sales this year, an industry first.

(VW investing heavily in goal of becoming world’s biggest automaker. Click Here for the story.)

Nonetheless, reaching the 8 million mark would take Hyundai and Kia well beyond their collective target of 7.86 million for the year. The surge has been based on strong demand for its SUV models, as well as rising sales in key emerging markets such as Brazil, China and India.

The two makers together sold a record 6.55 million vehicles during the first 10 months of 2014, Hyundai noted in a statement.

The jump in sales reflects not only increasing demand, however. It also shows that Hyundai and Kia have been addressing production bottlenecks at their plants around the world. They have blamed that problem for a slowdown in their otherwise rapid rate of growth over the last several years.

Kia is building a new plant in Mexico to help it meet growing opportunities in North America – and the plant is expected to serve as a global export base, as well. Hyundai is reportedly also considering a Mexican plant. Both makers currently operate factories in the U.S.

The two brands also have been upgrading their existing product lines while adding a number of new models.

(New study forecasts US car sales will top 17 mil in 2015. Click Here for more.)

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