Hyundai announced it would begin producing an upscale version of its Elantra sedan exclusively for the Chinese market at a new plant set to open in Beijing today, the Wall Street Journal reported. The South Korean automaker – which is competing with better-selling US, European and Japanese brands in China – sold 18% fewer cars in the mainland last year than it did in 2006. Sales of Hyuandai’s Elantra line fell nearly 30% in the same period. The Elantra sedan is thought to have struggled in China because Chinese buyers have either opted for foreign brands with more cachet, or have bought less-expensive domestic models. Hyundai and its Chinese joint-venture partner expect to sell 100,000 units of the Elantra Yuedong by the end of this year. The car will be priced from US$14,000 to US$18,500.
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