2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan, front three-quarter view

Even with the arrival of the new Hyundai Genesis Sedan (above) and the expected introduction of at least two other new vehicles in 2014, Hyundai-Kia is estimating its sales will only increase by about 4.1 percent this year. Bloomberg has found that figure, which works out to a total of 7.86 million vehicles worldwide, to be lower than average analyst estimates of eight million vehicles. If the automaker is correct, that figure will represent the most sluggish growth for the Korean brands since 2006.

Based on an exchange rate of 1,050 won to the dollar – right now it's trading at anywhere from 1,050 to 1,052 depending on where you look – Hyundai is predicting a 3.8-percent uptick for sales of 4.9 million units, while Kia is expecting a 4.7-percent uptick for sales of 2.96 million units. That exchange rate is predicted to be part of what will hamper sales this year, with a stronger South Korean won making Japanese cars more price-competitive when cross-shopped. It's unclear how Hyundai derived its exchange rate, but 1,050 won to the dollar almost matches the 52-week high for all of 2013.

The company chairman mentioned a "low growth era" in the world economy, and weaker US sales are rumored to at least part of the reason John Krafcik recently vacated the post of Hyundai Motor America CEO, a post that has been filled by executive vice president of sales, David Zuchowski. That unexpected news capped a year in which two top execs resigned over quality issues and recalls and Hyundai agreed to settle a consolidated lawsuit over inflated fuel economy ratings for $395 million.

Things are going better in China, at least, where both brands have posted double-digit gains. In addition to the expected unveiling of the next-generation Hyundai Sonata and Kia Sorento, the company will increase its spending on safety and technology. And at least one analyst still believes that Hyundai-Kia will achieve eight million sales worldwide this year.
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