Hyundai Motor Co. is seeking to double U.S. sales for its Tucson model to take advantage of growing demand for crossover utility vehicles.
Dave Zuchowski, chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, said at an event Tuesday to introduce the 2016 Tucson before the New York International Auto Show that production constraints have limited the annual supply of the vehicle for the U.S. to about 45,000. Hyundai wants to expand that output and push yearly sales to 90,000 in 2016, he said.
The U.S. auto market is “very, very heavily truck-oriented,” Zuchowski said. “When you’re not able to play in those segments, it’s really hard to participate in the growth of the market.”
Hyundai is betting on the Tucson to help boost lagging sales in major markets including the U.S. and China as consumer appetite for compact crossovers increases with low gasoline prices. The Seoul-based company sold 47,306 Tucsons in the U.S. last year, a gain of 13 percent from 2013 and more than double the 19,027 in 2009.
The largest South Korean automaker has said it’s aiming to deliver 570,000 Tucsons outside of its home market in 2016, compared with about 540,000 last year.
Zuchowski said his two goals are to increase production of CUVs, including the Tucson and the Santa Fe, as well as expand in crossovers. He cited the possibility of adding two more crossover models in the next few years.
“We think there will be a lot of people who move out of compact sedans and move into subcompact CUVs,” he said. “We think we need to have a vehicle in that segment and that’s in our plans as well.”
Chung Mong Koo, the company’s chairman, has said 2015 combined deliveries of Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. will increase at the slowest pace in nine years.
Hyundai fell 2.7 percent to 164,000 won Wednesday, extending the stock’s decline for this year to 3 percent.
The 2016 Tucson, which comes with a 2.0-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine and a larger interior, will offer 19-inch alloy wheels for the first time. The model competes with vehicles such as Honda Motor Co.’s CR-V, Toyota Motor Corp.’s RAV4 and Ford Motor Co.’s Escape.
The European version, which Zuchowski said shared most characteristics with its U.S. counterpart, was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.