SEOUL, Mar 19 (Reuters) Hyundai Motor Co. , South Korea's top auto maker, said on Monday it planned to launch a car aimed at the U.S. premium segment next year.
Hyundai, the world's No.6 auto maker along with its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. <000270.KS> by sales volume, is targeting the global luxury car market in a bid to to upgrade image and convince the public that the company does not just make economic cars.
''We will launch the 'BH' in the first half of 2008 in South Korea and will begin to sell the premium sedan in the United States, the major export market for the model, late 2008,'' said Hyundai spokesman Jake Jang, referring to the car's code-name.
The new model, which Hyundai hopes will compete with Toyota Motor Corp.'s <7203.T> Lexus, will have a V-8 engine, he added.
Hyundai aims to sell about 20,000 units of the BH in the United States a year, another Hyundai official said but declined to comment on the local market target.
Hyundai needs to add premium models, which carry higher margins, to its line-up to boost profits amid unfavourable business conditions such as a stronger won currency and weaker domestic demand, analyst say.
Shares in Hyundai ended up 0.15 percent at 68,500 won, compared to a 1.09 percent gain in the broader market