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Hyundai Bets Longer Elantra Will Help Narrow China Gap

Hyundai Motor Co. has made steady progress in China in recent years by courting consumers on reliability and price. Now it’s betting that a new factory and an updated version of its top-selling model will give it the edge it needs to further boost sales of both small cars and more expensive -- and more profitable -- vehicles.

Hyundai this month will open the 6.5 billion yuan ($1 billion) Beijing plant, where it plans to produce Elantra sedans that are slightly longer and taller than the current model in a bow to the Chinese penchant for space and spice in cars. The company expects the extra legroom and snazzier look to help it gain market share in China’s small-auto segment, where demand comes predominantly from people purchasing their first car. That, in turn, could help Hyundai as those buyers trade up.