MILFORD, Michigan Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) has set an annual U.S. sales target for its newly remodeled Santa Fe crossover utility vehicle of more than 100,000, an executive with the South Korean automaker said on Thursday.
Hyundai began selling the shorter five-passenger version of its 2013 Santa Fe last month and is scheduled to begin building the seven-passenger model in December with sales to follow in January 2013, said John Shon, manager of product planning for Hyundai Motor America. Speaking at a Hyundai event outside Detroit, Shon called the sales target "achievable."
In April, Hyundai said it was targeting global sales of 385,000 for the Santa Fe in 2013. The third generation of Santa Fe is the first upgrade for the vehicle in seven years.
The Santa Fe competes in the midsize crossover SUV market, which rose 14 percent last year to almost 975,000 vehicles in the United States, according to research firm Edmunds.com. From January through August of this year, sales in the segment are up 17 percent compared with the year-ago period, with the Santa Fe ranking eighth with a 6 percent market share.
The larger Santa Fe model replaces the Veracruz, which Hyundai stopped building this summer. The Santa Fe is built on the same vehicle platform as Hyundai's Sonata midsized sedan.
Shon said Hyundai is trying to build on the Santa Fe brand equity as the SUV ranks No. 1 among its vehicles in customer awareness, ahead of the Sonata and Elantra cars. Hyundai officials have said in the past that the Veracruz lacked awareness with U.S. consumers.
The shorter Santa Fe is built at the West Point, Georgia, plant of Hyundai affiliate Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS), and Shon said it competes with General Motors Co's (GM.N) Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Motor Co's (F.N) Edge, Kia Sorento and Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T) Venza. The longer Santa Fe, which Shon said will compete with the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Motor Co Ltd's (7201.T) Pathfinder, Honda Motor Co Ltd's (7267.T) Pilot and Ford Explorer, will be built in South Korea.
Through August, Santa Fe sales were off 16 percent at 43,583, while Veracruz sales were up 1.6 percent at 6,116 vehicles.
The new Santa Fe model starts at $25,275 including delivery charges. The price for the larger version has not been set, but officials said it would be more than $27,000.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; editing by Matthew Lewis)