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Hyundai Keeps Building While Others Retrench

While most car companies are retrenching, Hyundai Motor America is keeping up a drumbeat of new product introductions and splashy advertising.

Hyundai calls its product plan "24-7," for seven new vehicles in 24 months, through 2011.

The first two out of the box of seven are the Hyundai Elantra Touring station wagon, which went on sale in November 2008, and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, which went on sale in February 2009. Still to come are two crossover vehicles, a midsize sedan, an entry-level car and an entry-level coupe.

Meanwhile, the Hyundai Genesis Sedan debuted in June 2008. It is the first Hyundai available with an optional V-8, which shows how Hyundai is taking its products, price points, and hopefully its brand image upscale.

In addition to all those models, Hyundai this summer is rolling out different versions of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, like an "R-Spec" variant, aimed at "tuner" enthusiasts. It has performance-oriented features like a stiffer suspension, but loses about $3,000 worth of features like bi-xenon headlights, fog lamps, power driver seat, power sunroof and Bluetooth connectivity. The idea is to attract performance fans who will add a lot of their own aftermarket equipment.

Hyundai's current run of new vehicles is actually "24-7, Version 2.0," a Hyundai spokesman said in a presentation today.

Hyundai started to reinvent itself in the U.S. market with its first version of "24-7," from 2004 through 2006. That run included the Tucson SUV, Sonata sedan, Azera sedan, entry-level Accent coupe and sedan, Entourage minivan, Santa Fe SUV and Elantra sedan models. The first of those are due to be replaced soon.

Hyundai's approach has it gaining U.S. market share. Through April, Hyundai's U.S. sales in 2009 were down 3.6 percent year to date, to 129,806, while the entire U.S. market fell 37.4 percent, to about 3 million, according to AutoData Corp.

Photo: Hyundai

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