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    HYUNDAI REACHES NO. 40 ON BRAND RANKINGS

    Hyundai Motor Co. is performing quite well on the world stage with a No. 40 ranking on Interbrand’s Best 100 Global Brand.

    It is the Korean automaker’s highest ranking ever and its brand value jumped 16 percent to $10.4 billion in 2014. The company ranked 43rd on the list in 2013 with a brand value of $9 billion.

    “Hyundai Motor is one of the fastest-growing automotive brands in terms of both volume and brand value,”

    Interbrand said in a statement. “Hyundai Motor makes unique convenience features available across a broader range of vehicles to enhance driving experience and customer satisfaction while its commitment to brand building extends to multiple touchpoints.”

    The company’s brand value has increased nearly 200 percent from 2005 when it was $3.5 billion and Hyundai was ranked 84th in the top 100 brand list. Hyundai had the seventh-highest ranking among automakers last year, moving ahead of Audi, and now is one spot behind Ford. Toyota has the top ranking of the automakers at No. 8 with Mercedes – Benz at 10; BMW is 11th; Honda is 20th; and Volkswagen is 31st.

    “The Interbrand Report confirms Hyundai’s growing impact on a global scale,” said Robert Burns, senior manager of public relations for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. The company produces the Sonata and Elantra at the Montgomery facility.

    “The brand’s power has been escalating thanks to consumers recognizing the quality of our vehicles and the expanded line-up across many segments to better serve the marketplace. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama is proud to play a part in Hyundai Motor Co.’s phenomenal growth since 2005. Our team members’ dedication to building the best sedans for the North American market will ultimately lead to Hyundai becoming a brand car buyers genuinely love.”

    The brand value has jumped an average of 20 percent since the company introduced “modern premium” brand direction at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. The company also introduced its slogan: “New Thinking. New Possibilities” at that auto show.

    “We’re implementing a wide variety of brand-related activities that aren’t simply focused on increasing sales, but are aimed at becoming a brand that our customers genuinely love,” Hyundai Motor Co. Chief Marketing Officer Won Hong Cho said in a statement. “We will continue to invest in our brand by providing Hyundai Motor’s unique premium experience in all aspects of the customer’s journey with our brand.”

    HYUNDAI SALES SET ALL-TIME YEARLY RECORD

    It was a lifetime ago that Korean automaker Hyundai was selling 300,000 and 400,000 vehicles a year in the U.S. That was back in the first decade of 2000.

    Now, Hyundai is selling 700,000-plus vehicles a year and set an all-time record of 725,718 units last year. That eclipsed the previous record of 720,783 vehicles in 2013 and marked the third straight year of sales topping 700,000.

    “We ended the year on a high note,” Bob Pradzinski, vice president of national sales for Fountain Valley, California-based Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement. Hyundai Motor America is the sales and marketing arm for Hyundai.

    It is the sixth straight year of sales increases, dating back to 2009. Hyundai did have nine straight record years from 1999 to 2007.

    Once again, it was the Elantra and Sonata leading the way. The vehicles, which are both produced at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant in Montgomery, accounted for 60 percent of the total sales in 2014 with a combined 438,959 vehicles sold.

    The Elantra retained its title as Hyundai’s top seller in 2014 with 222,023 vehicles sold vs. 216,936 for the Sonata. The difference between the two has narrowed from nearly 45,000 units in 2013 to about 5,100 units last year. Sonata sales were up about 13,000 in 2014 while Elantra sales fell about 25,000 units.

    Santa Fe sales jumped 21.5 percent last year to 107,906 units and Tucson sales rose 13 percent to 47,306 units.

    “… It was evident that the CUV (crossover) segment was red hot with our exceptional sales for the year for both Santa Fe and Tucson,” Pradzinski said.

    Hyundai also enjoyed a record-setting December with 64,507 units, with Sonata sales up 24 percent for the month.

    HMMA NEARLY MATCHES PRODUCTION RECORD

    The Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant in Montgomery came within 644 vehicles last year of matching the 2013 production record.

    The plant produced 398,851 vehicles last year – 235,908 Sonatas and 162,943 Elantras. The company got off to a slow start last year, losing five production shifts in January to a rare ice storm. The plant produced nearly 4,300 more vehicles in January 2013 than last year. Saturdays were added to compensate for the lost production time, according to Robert Burns, senior manager of public relations for HMMA.

    Production totals vary month-to-month and year-to-year due to a number of factors, including the number of working days, equipment issues, supplier issues and Saturday shifts, Burns said.

    There were four months of 35,000-plus units produced last year and two months with less than 30,000 units – January and December – although December did reach more than 29,000 vehicles, which was an increase of nearly 6,700 units from December 2013.

    Hyundai has produced nearly 1.2 million vehicles the past three years.

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