If they havent heard the warning already, Europes traditional carmakers will receive a wake-up call at the Geneva auto show.
Hyundai and Kia will unveil ambitious plans to target Europes volume brands at the show.
- Hyundai likely will announce the location of its new 300,000-unit assembly plant in the Czech Republic.
- Kia will unveil a design teaser close to its future Slovak-built car.
- A Hyundai concept car will show its European design direction.
Volkswagen, Peugeot, Opel/Vauxhall, Ford and Renault have traditionally dominated the lower-medium segment. Kia and Hyundai want a big piece of it.
We think our growth will come from the [lower-medium] segment all over Europe and we are investing in everything needed for the local needs of customers, Jean-Charles Lievens, senior vice president of Kia Europe, said.
Hyundai and Kia need European manufacturing to support sales growth.
We want to double our volumes by 2010, Gerry Dorizas, Hyundai Europe vice president, said. We have plans in every segment. Some are high volume, some are not.
Last year, Hyundai and Kia sales in western Europe rose to 556,958 units from 314,005 in 2003, up 77.4 percent in two years, according to UK-based JATO Dynamics.
They are taking share directly from the traditional European manufacturers, said analyst Mark Fulthorpe of CSM Worldwide.
He forecasts Hyundai-Kia will build 900,000 units in Europe by 2011.
Kia will build a lower-medium five-door hatchback at its 300,000-unit plant in Zilina, Slovakia, which is due to open in December. The Ceed concept will reveal the look of the car at the Geneva show.
Hyundais Czech plant will produce a more upscale lower-medium car designed in Rüsselsheim. Code-named FD, it will replace the Elantra.
A lower-medium car is an entrance ticket to be recognized in Europe, Dorizas said.
Both brands also plan convertibles, coupes, SUVs and station wagons. Both are adding diesel production as well. Kia will build three gasoline and two diesel engines at a new engine plant in Zilina.
Said Fulthorpe: How can the traditional guys react? On the surface, its a huge challenge. You have to wonder what the end game is going to be.