SEOUL (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor, South Korea’s top automaker, will recall some 139,500 Sonata sedans sold in the United States, due to problems with the steering wheel that could cause a loss or reduction of control.
The automaker announced the recall after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a probe into steering problems in August, a move analysts said was aimed at heading off criticism that it was slow to respond.
“Hyundai’s pre-emptive action is fast enough to avoid any criticism in handling safety issues,” said Kim Byung-kuk, an analyst at Daishin Securities.
No accidents or injuries occurred as a result of improper assembly or loose steering connections, Hyundai said in an email statement on Sunday.
The vehicles were built from December 11, 2009, through September 10, 2010.
Hyundai sold 128,484 Sonata sedans in the period from January to August, 35 percent of its U.S. car segment sales during the period.
The company’s latest recall comes as the automaker seeks to increase production of the Sonata, its best-selling model in America, at its plant in Alabama.
Lee Sang-hyun, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities in Seoul, said the recall was unlikely to hurt Hyundai’s sales.
“However, since potential defects related to assembling are not a significant problem with its quality, it will barely impact Hyundai’s sales,” Lee said.
In February, Sonata, underwent the first recall this year that affected 47,000 units in South Korea and the United States due to front door lock faults.
Hyundai has been one of the stronger performers in the U.S. auto market in recent years, gaining market share and logging an 8.3 percent sales increase in 2009, while the industry fell 21 percent overall to the lowest levels since the early 1980s.
Hyundai’s affiliate Kia Motors said in early September its co-chief executive had resigned to take responsibility for nearly 86,000 recalls of some of its models, including the Soul compact sedan.
Reporting by Ju-min Park and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Maureen Bavdek