| SEOUL, March 4
SEOUL, March 4 South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co
on Tuesday unveiled a revamped version of its key
Sonata sedan, switching to a more muted design as the auto maker
seeks to win back conservative customers at home who have been
switching to imported vehicles.
The new version of Hyundai's second best-selling car is
being launched as the company reels from falling sales and
market share, as well as a series of recalls and a subsequent
slide in United States reliability rankings.
Details of pricing and sales targets for the new Sonata
weren't immediately disclosed. Hyundai is expected to roll out
of the bread-and-butter model in South Korea late in March,
followed by the U.S. and other key markets.
The previous Sonata, launched in 2009, helped the auto maker
win a record market share in the United States, where buyers
liked its distinctive styling and improved performance. Its
annual sales in the U.S. nearly doubled, to 230,605, in 2012
compared with 2009.
That bolder styling went down less well with conservative
consumers in South Korea, where sales of imported vehicles
surged after international trade agreements resulted in lower
import tariffs and showroom prices.
"The new Sonata is key for Hyundai to restore sales and
reputation," said Lee Sang-hyun, an analyst at NH Investment &
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)