Tony O'Kane | Jan 3, 2012

Hyundai Kia Automotive Group has announced plans to aggressively expand both its spending in research and development, and its global production volume in 2012.

The group, which controls both the Hyundai and Kia brands, aims to increase its passenger car production from 6.5 million units in 2011 to seven million units by the end of 2012.

To handle the increased production volume, a total of US$2.6 billion will be spent on upgrading existing plants and building new ones in both South Korea and overseas.

US$5.2 billion will also be spent on the group's foreign-market operations, as well as its domestic steel-making plants.

Hyundai's research and development budget will be given a 10.9 percent boost to $4.41 billion, with much of that earmarked for "the development of eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles".

Overall, the increase in R&D and production spending amounts to $12.2 billion - a 15.6 percent increase over last year's spend.

The group will also be chasing more customers in Europe, where Hyundai hopes to increase its market share for the region to 5.0 percent by 2015.

Last year the group accounted for 3.0 percent of European passenger car sales. A modest 0.5 percent increase in market share is forecast for 2012.

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