Hyundai Motor will start production of its first convertibles at a plant in the Czech Republic to be completed in 2009. A senior source in the company said Monday the firm will produce a convertible mid-size sedan tentatively named FD at the Czech plant. “We are in the midst of discussion with European convertible manufacturer Webasto on the development of the model,” he added. It is the first time a Korean company is getting into mass production of convertible models since Kia Motors produced the Elan in cooperation with Lotus.
Hyundai’s motive is improving its brand image. “Convertible cars are not profitable because the volume of sales is small, but they are effective in bringing the image of high-end products to foreign customers,” a Hyundai executive said.
Hyundai introduced a concept convertible model of the Tiburon at the Frankfurt motor show in Germany back in 2003. Kia Motors developed the Sepia convertible model but abandoned it judging that it was not marketable enough. The FD, which targets the European market, will be a mid-size car with a 1,600-2,000 cc engine. Hyundai plans to produce the standard FD sedan at its Ulsan plant first, and then make the sedan and convertible at the Czech plant once it is finished.