South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. will re-enter the Japanese passenger car market this year, 12 years after leaving the market dominated by domestic carmakers, betting on demand for its eco-friendly cars.
Hyundai Mobility Japan Co. will start taking orders for the IONIQ 5 electric vehicle and NEXO fuel cell vehicle from May for delivery beginning in July.
The plan, announced Tuesday, marks Hyundai's first passenger car sales in the world's third-largest automobile market since pulling the plug in December 2009, citing poor sales. The South Korean carmaker has since sold buses in Japan.
The IONIQ 5 is equipped with a high-capacity battery and can run 618 kilometers on a single charge, according to the Japanese subsidiary. The EVs will be priced at between 4.79 million yen ($41,500) and 5.89 million yen.
The hydrogen-powered NEXO, which will cost 7.76 million yen, can travel around 820 km without refueling.
Hyundai entered the Japanese passenger car market in 2001 and sold some 2,500 vehicles at its peak in 2004. The sales later dwindled to about 500 in 2008.
In explaining the decision on the re-entry, Shigeaki Kato, managing director of Hyundai Mobility Japan, said, "The market for EVs and FCVs is (still) small in Japan. We want to offer a greater variety of cars."
Hyundai Mobility Japan, which changed its name from Hyundai Motor Japan, will sell the EVs and FCV online. It did not reveal their sales targets.
By the end of this year, the vehicles will be available for car-sharing and subscription services.
The Japanese unit will also open a base in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, this summer where customers can test drive, consult on purchases and have their vehicles serviced, it said. A nationwide roll-out will follow in other major regions of the country in collaboration with local repair shops.
According to the Japan Automobile Importers Association, a total of 259,752 foreign-brand new vehicles, mostly passenger cars, were sold in Japan in 2021, up 1.4 percent from the previous year.
The figures accounted for 9.3 percent of the country's overall new vehicle sales in 2021, excluding minivehicles, grabbing the largest share since comparable data became available in 1988.