* First Sonata revamp in over four years
* New Genesis sedan planned in late 2013 -CEO
* Hyundai shares down 0.9 pct vs 0.6 pct fall in KOSPI
SEOUL, March 21 Hyundai Motor plans
to launch a revamped version of its flagship Sonata sedan in
2014, its first upgrade in more than four years, its chief
executive said on Wednesday, as the company grapples with
increasing foreign competition in its home market.
Hyundai, the world's fifth-largest auto group along with its
affiliate Kia Motors, has only one new model planned
for a global launch this year. It started taking pre-orders on
Wednesday for the new Santa Fe sports utility vehicle, which
will be unveiled in April.
The latest version of the Sonata was launched in September
2009 in South Korea and early 2010 in the United States.
Sonata, which competes with Toyota Motor Corp's
Camry, is Hyundai's top-selling model in the United States and
helped the South Korean automaker achieve record sales and
market share there last year. It was Hyundai's third-best
selling model in South Korea last year.
Hyundai's domestic car sales are increasingly coming under
pressure following free trade deals with Europe and the United
States that have boosted international automakers' access to
South Korea's formerly sheltered market.
Sales of imported cars topped 10 percent of the market for
the first time in January this year, according to industry data.
Toyota has started to sell U.S.-made Camry sedans in South
Korea and is considering importing cars from Europe as it seeks
to boost local sales by 160 percent to 13,000 vehicles this
year, and Lexus sales by 90 percent to 8,000.
Hyundai chief executive Kim Choong-ho also told Reuters on
the sidelines of an industry meeting that the revamped version
of the large-sized Genesis would be introduced in late 2013.
Shares in Hyundai fell 0.9 percent by 0310 GMT, versus a 0.6
percent rise in the broader market.