SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Michigan Hyundai Motor Co will launch new versions of its Sonata and Genesis sedans and a hydrogen-fueled Tucson crossover in the United States in the first half of 2014, the automaker's top U.S. executive said on Friday.
The South Korea automaker is expected to unveil the Tucson fuel-cell vehicle, which is already sold in Europe as the ix35, next week at the Los Angeles auto show, Hyundai Motor America Chief Executive John Krafcik told reporters at the company's technical center outside Detroit.
Krafcik said Hyundai plans through 2016 to build 1,000 of the Tucson fuel-cell vehicles, which are made on the same South Korean assembly line as the gasoline-powered model, but the company is prepared to build more if the demand is there.
Hyundai sees fuel-cell cars as combining the best attributes of gasoline-powered cars and electric vehicles, including greater driving range than EVs with a faster time to recharge the car's battery.
Krafcik acknowledged, however, that fuel-cell technology is still in its infancy and "there's no question the internal-combustion engine will reign supreme for some time."
He said the 2015 Sonata will be introduced next April at the New York auto show.
Krafcik called 2013 a "difficult" year for the company in the U.S. market, with sales up only 2 percent through October, as capacity constraints have held the company back. He repeated the company's stance that there were no plans for Hyundai to add production capacity in North America.
He said the company's incentive spending so far this year averaged $1,370 per vehicle, the second-lowest rate in the U.S. industry, which he called a strong performance given Hyundai's older vehicle lineup. The company's average transaction price has risen to $22,758 per vehicle, up from $22,683 last year.
Hyundai will cut Sonata production by 11 percent this year at its plant in Alabama as the car is in its last year before the new version debuts, Krafcik said. The plant will produce more Elantra sedans instead.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Eric Beech)