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Inside autos: Hyundai keeps gaining in U.S.

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Inside autos: Hyundai keeps gaining in U.S.


Hyundai Motor America's CEO signs his e-mails with this advice: "Stay humble, stay hungry."

It's not easy, given the company's momentum.

In 1998, Hyundai held 0.6% of the U.S. auto market. Today, it's 4.4%, ranking seventh among U.S. brands. Sales in 2010 are up 23%, the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year market share gains. In April, Sonata demand was so strong that Hyundai ran out.

"We cannot build our cars fast enough," Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik said.

Hyundai sold its first car in the U.S. in 1986, but it's the past decade that saw the company really come from behind. Many credit Hyundai's chief executive, Chung Mong-koo, who took the reins of the parent company in 1999.

Krafcik wasn't at Hyundai Motor America at the time -- he arrived after stints at the General Motors/Toyota NUMMI joint venture and Ford -- but he says that the company has created a unique culture.

More than a decade ago, Hyundai set out to become one of the world's top five auto manufacturers. In 2001, it ranked only 32nd of 38 brands in a J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey. Today, the company is the world's fourth-largest automaker.

Mustang passes mileage test

Ford proved last week that its 2011 Ford Mustang can achieve an average of 48.5 m.p.g. under the right conditions.

To achieve that, Ford drove the Mustang 1,457 laps at Bristol, Tenn., Motor Speedway at an average speed of 43.9 m.p.h. The 305-horsepower Mustang is normally capable of getting 30 m.p.g. on the highway.

Ford said the Mustang 1,000 Lap Challenge was designed to demonstrate that a stock production Mustang V6 could complete 1,000 laps and 533 miles on a single tank of fuel. With the aid of fuel-efficient driving techniques by Ford engineers, the Mustang far surpassed its goal of 1,000 laps.

The Challenge team, which included NASCAR star David Ragan and four Ford Mustang engineers, completed the challenge in 17 hours and 40 minutes.

Devices help keep drivers honest

Companies worried about drivers trying to sneak a squealing wheelie with their commercial vehicles now have a way to track and prevent such maneuvers without having a traffic cop ride shotgun.

Offering a product that some critics say reminds them too much of Big Brother, a Redwood Shores, Calif., company has been outfitting vehicles with devices that warn drivers when they've suddenly swerved or slammed on the brakes and then post the information online for managers to see.

The company that developed the devices, GreenRoad Technologies, said the system helps slice risky driving behavior in half and is eco-friendly. Executives said clients are saving as much as $4,000 per vehicle per year.

Commonly known as telematics, technologies that help communicate with a vehicle, have been around for years. The GreenRoad system takes the technology further, with a sensor that picks up changes in driving style.



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