Some California dreaming

Newcastle Herald

Saturday 3 January 2004
Author: Brent Davison

Section: Drive

AS we settle into our southern summer our North American cousins are gearing up for the motor show season with their premier show opening tomorrow.
The North American International Auto Show has the usual array of new metal for production and concept cars for the wishful thinkers.

Among the latter, Hyundai will step forward with its HCD8 Coupe concept, the first vehicle to be produced by its new $A41 million Californian design centre.

Hyundai describes the design as "stylish utilit" and while the detail is scant we can tell you it is the eighth in a line of Hyundai Concept Design (HCD, get it?) vehicles.

Power comes from a supercharged version of the company's all-alloy Delta-series 2.7 litre V6 engine.

HYUNDAI is not just making mileage from its latest concept car though and the company has more concrete things to crow about.

It passed a major milestone in mid-December when its annual vehicle exports passed the 1million mark for the first time, making it the first Korean manufacturer to meet the magic number.

It is a far cry from 1976 when Hyundai's first export order of six Pony subcompacts was shipped to a customer in Ecuador and the total export number reached a modest 1042 vehicles.

Which means in that 27-year period Hyundai's export volume has increased by a thousand-fold, its export value by a factor of 3200 and its cumulative total to almost 10million units.

The first Australian market Hyundais, incidentally, arrived in 1986.

OOPS! Tennis star Andre Agassi has slipped into the gunsights of Pedestrian Council of Australia boss Harold Scruby.

The reason? His driving style in the latest TV advert for Kia's four-wheel-drive Sorento.

Agassi drives quickly, getting air under the Sorento's wheels and, Scruby says, driving dangerously and causing environmental damage.

Incidentally, no pedestrians are visible in the commercial.