By Hyunjoo Jin, Reuters
SEOUL - Optimism over Hyundai Motor Co's first major makeover of its key models in about five years may fizzle as some industry insiders question whether the redesigns are too conservative for international tastes.
Hyundai is facing fierce competition in its home market of South Korea. Free trade deals opened the door for U.S., Japanese and European rivals, who are chipping away at its share in a market where it is accustomed to dominating.
To better compete, the company plans to launch a new, significantly redesigned version of its Genesis large car as early as next month, and a revamped Sonata mid-sized sedan early next year, although neither is likely to carry a new engine.
Hyundai is expected to tone down Sonata's bold lines and curves in a bid to appeal to a broader audience and boost sagging volume growth, particularly at home. But that could backfire in other vital markets such as the United States, where its flashier style is popular and has helped Hyundai establish a credible presence over the past few years.