UPDATE 1-Hyundai's American chief sees 2013 U.S. sales up 4.4 pct

ORLANDO, Fla. Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:11am EST

ORLANDO, Fla. Feb 11 (Reuters) - The addition of a third shift at its Alabama plant last year will allow South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co to increase its U.S. sales 4.4 percent in 2013 to 734,000, Hyundai Motor America Chief Executive John Krafcik said on Monday.

Adding the third shift to the plant in Montgomery, Alabama allows an additional 60,000 units of annual production, Krafcik said.

If the U.S. auto industry has 2013 sales of 15.1 million, as Hyundai expects, the company will maintain the 4.9 percent share of the U.S. market it achieved in 2012, Krafcik said after a meeting with Hyundai U.S. dealers at the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Krafcik said he was not aware of plans among Hyundai executives in South Korea to expand an existing plant or build a new one in North America to alleviate the tight inventory issues the company faces.

Hyundai was the fastest-growing automaker during the recent recession but its sales increases have cooled due to the lack of availability of new cars. Its 2012 U.S. sales rose 8.9 percent.

Several auto dealers who attended the meeting with Krafcik and other Hyundai American executives said they were pleased that the automaker had successfully dealt with the issue of overstating fuel economy claims on 13 Hyundai and Kia models.

Last November, Hyundai and its Kia affiliate said they had overstated the fuel economy on more than 1 million vehicles sold in the United States and agreed to compensate owners for the additional fuel costs. [ID: nL1E8M21ZQ]

Krafcik said that Hyundai's 800 U.S. dealers averaged $1 million in profit in 2012.

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