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Hyundai CEO backs vehicle grading

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Hyundai CEO backs vehicle grading

Automaker's 2010 sales up, has plans to boost fuel economy

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik Thursday praised a plan by federal regulators to begin assigning letter grades to new vehicles, based on their fuel efficiency and emissions.

"For those automakers who choose to focus on fuel-efficient segments (of the car market), I think this grading system is a good thing," Krafcik said.

The Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want to award new vehicles, starting in the 2012 model year, grades from "A+ to "D" based on fuel efficiency. The National Automobile Dealers Association and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Association, which represents major automakers, oppose the plan.

Last month, Krafcik announced Hyundai planned to boost the fuel economy of its fleet to at least 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

"It certainly has started an interesting dialogue," Krafcik said. "We don't have a specific roadmap on how to get there. But if we just say that that's what we're going to do, we're going to find a way."

Hyundai will reveal a new sedan at the Los Angeles auto show that will have a combined fuel efficiency rating of nearly 50 mpg, Krafcik said.

"It is something that would fit the needs of every American family," he said.

The Korean automaker has been on a roll this year, with sales up 17 percent over last year. It recorded its highest-ever retail sales share of the U.S. market, 5.3 percent, in August.

But August sales were off 11 percent over a year earlier due to the boost that most car companies got last year from the "cash for clunkers" program.

"Our not-so-secret recipe is great fuel economy and great design," Krafcik said.

Hyundai's new hot-selling 2011 Sonata had a chance to hit 200,000 sales this year, and has received good reviews. Four-cylinder Sonata gets up to 35 mpg on the highway.

"Amazing fuel economy and great styling," Krafcik said. "When you think about it, how many cars put those two things together?"

In 2008, Hyundai led the industry in the United States with a fleetwide fuel economy average of 30.9 mpg, ahead of Honda Motor Co.'s 30.1 mpg and Toyota Motor Corp.'s 29 mpg.

Krafcik was in Washington Thursday to unveil a major boost in the company's efforts to fight cancer.

Hyundai's 801 U.S. dealers have donated $5 per vehicle to the Hyundai Hope on Wheels program to battle childhood cancer. But dealers proposed hiking the donation to $100 per vehicle, matched by the automaker, and the company quickly agreed.

The automaker and its dealers raised $14 million over the past 12 years -- $6.8 million so far this year, with hopes of topping $9 million for 2010.

Hyundai is giving $100,000 each to 68 U.S. cancer centers, including the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100903/AUTO01/9030356/1148/auto01/Hyundai-CEO-backs-vehicle-grading#ixzz0yTKR8F7C

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