South Korea’s top automaker Hyundai Motor announced Wednesday it would recall 47,300 of its latest-model Sonata sedans in the United States and the domestic market due to a door lock problem.
The firm said 1,300 of the cars already sold in the United States and another 46,000 in South Korea would be called back from March in response to complaints of faulty front-door locks on some of them.
Its US dealers were ordered Tuesday to stop selling the model, which was launched domestically in September and in the United States this month.
The recall comes at a sensitive time for the world auto industry, with Japan’s Toyota forced to recall millions of vehicles worldwide. Its top US executive Akio Toyoda was to testify later Wednesday to US lawmakers about the safety problems.
Hyundai officials said that “in very rare instances” the front doors of some of the new Sonatas cannot be closed properly if a motorist simultaneously pulls the door latch and holds down the lock from inside.
“To avoid a possible occurrence of the problem, Hyundai has been applying modified parts to some of its Korean and US production models,” the firm said in a statement, adding there had been a “handful” of customer complaints.
“Hyundai has full confidence in its early warning system which tracks customer complaints worldwide and analyses patterns in reported problems,” it said.
Hyundai said it would notify both the US and South Korean transportation authorities this week of its voluntary recall.
The affected sedan is Hyundai’s latest midsized model, marketed as “YF Sonata” in South Korea and “2011 Sonata” in the United States.
Hyundai, together with its sister company Kia Motors, is the world’s fifth largest automaker and controls more than 70 percent of South Korea’s car market. The Sonata has been Hyundai’s best-selling model domestically.
Shares of Hyundai Motor closed 2.56 percent lower Wednesday.
Last year Hyundai and Kia were two of few major carmakers to increase sales in the US market despite the economic slump.
Hyundai’s US auto sales rose 8.3 percent to 435,064 in 2009, giving it a market share there of 4.2 percent compared to 3 percent in 2008.
In 2010 it aims to increase its US market share to 4.5 percent.