BARCELONA -- Hyundai thinks its new i20 hatchback is arriving on the market at the right time.
The Korean automaker expects customers hit by the economic crisis to switch from larger cars to the small, affordable i20.
Prevailing economic conditions and changing vehicle taxation regulations have forced many consumers to closely examine their financial commitments, Hyundai Motor Europe President Kun-Hee Ahn said in a statement.
Jay Ryu, Hyundai Europes executive coordinator of product marketing, said about 20 percent of i20 sales could come from people who are downsizing. That is why this is the right time for this product, Ryu told Automotive News Europe at the cars launch here.
Hyundai aims to sell more than 100,000 i20s in Europe this year. That would be a big increase over the car the i20 replaces, the Getz, which is on pace to reach a volume of more than 60,000 units in 2008.
Since the Getz was launched in 2002, Hyundai has sold more than 500,000 units, making it the automakers top seller ever in Europe.
Hyundai said that during its life cycle it expects the i20 to beat the Getzs record.
Hyundai expects young families to be among the buyers of the i20, which is built in Chennai, India. It is also aimed at 25- to 35-year-olds as their first new car.
The i20 has been designed and engineered for the European auto market at Hyundais development center in Rüsselsheim, Germany.
Longer and wider than the Getz, the five-door i20 has an extended wheelbase, allowing the car to have a larger interior.