Time to skip the facelift.
The eighth-generation Hyundai Sonata and Sonata Hybrid went on sale for the 2020 model year and already the South Korean automaker is said to be planning its retirement. According to The Korean Car Blog, Hyundai intends to skip the Sonata's mid-cycle facelift planned for 2023 and will instead skip directly ahead to a complete redesign. The apparent reason is due to slow sales, especially in South Korea where the larger Grandeur, which isn't sold in the US, is vastly more popular.
Even sales in the US have been dropping since 2016. In 2015, 213,303 units were sold here but last year that figure shrunk to 76,997. The pandemic may have played a role in that but it's not the sole reason.
The US-market Sonata is built in Alabama and there's also an assembly line in South Korea for its own domestic production. But Hyundai pays very close attention to what's happening in its home country. The Grandeur, for example, is currently selling over 10,000 units per month whereas the Sonata isn't even reaching half that. The Sonata's corporate cousin, the Kia K5, formerly known as the Optima, has also been selling better in Korea and posting similar figures in the US.
The report makes no mention whether Hyundai will develop a new platform for the ninth-gen Sonata but we predict it'll be an updated version of the existing one, which is also brand new. The K5's future, for now, remains unknown.
Hyundai officials in Korea essentially view the current Sonata as a failed model and they're moving fast to correct past mistakes. But it's not all bad for the Sonata. Quite frankly, it could have been worse. There were some past rumors claiming there were plans to drop the Sonata entirely in favor of the upcoming and all-electric Ioniq 6 sedan.
The new plan is for both models to co-exist, at least for the next several years. Like nearly all other automakers, Hyundai Motor Group is aiming for an all-electric future consisting of battery-electrics and hydrogen fuel cell models. Whether or not there's a place for the Sonata in there remains to be seen.