By Tim Kelly and Maki Shiraki
TOKYO (Reuters) – South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co said on Tuesday it was returning to Japan 12 years after leaving due to poor sales, with growing demand for electric vehicles providing a new opening in a market dominated by Toyota Motor .
Hyundai has announced that it will sell its Nexo SUV hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle and its Ioniq 5 midsize crossover electric vehicle, which is at the heart of the company’s bid to capture 10% of global electric vehicle sales. here 2025.
“We haven’t set a sales target yet, but we’ll try to provide more information once we start taking online orders in May,” Hyundai Mobility Japan director Shigeaki Kato said. at a launch event in Tokyo.
Hyundai, which together with its subsidiary Kia Corp dominates the neighboring South Korean car market, made its first bid to win market share in Japan in 2001 but left after selling just 15,000 cars.
Of the five million cars sold each year in Japan, around nine-tenths are Japanese brands, with Toyota Motor having around 40% of the market. Apart from luxury models, foreign manufacturers have struggled to reduce this lead.
However, the growing demand for electric vehicles, including Tesla Inc models, may mean a second chance for traditional manufacturers such as Hyundai, Volkswagen AG and Stellantis, the maker of Peugeot cars.
Although only about 20,000 electric vehicles were sold in Japan last year, the segment grew by nearly half from a year earlier, even as overall car sales fell slightly. Imports of electric vehicles nearly tripled to a record 8,610 vehicles, according to the Japan Automobile Importers Association (JAIA).
In a video message during the presentation in Tokyo, Hyundai CEO Jaehoon Chang apologized for leaving the automaker 12 years ago. Only 600 Hyundai cars were still running in Japan, he added.
This time around, Kato later explained, Hyundai will focus on online sales and is partnering with a car-sharing service operated by online social gaming company DeNA Co and insurance company Sompo Holdings that allows private car owners to rent their vehicles.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Maki Shiraki; editing by Richard Pullin)
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