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Hyundai and Chrysler: Two Very Different Stories

As we work our way through the last month of the year, there's an intriguing story playing out with Hyundai and Chrysler.

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AP

For Hyundai, its red hot Sonata has a chance to be the company's first model to crack the top 10 in sales in the U.S.

For Chrysler, it's looking at the possibility of not having a model in the top ten for the first time in years.

Its Dodge Ram pick-up is currently #12 in sales for the year. Just 4,000 units behind the race for #10, Ram could easily catch the Sonata with a decent sales push.

So why should we care?

In the case of Hyundai, the spectacular rise of the Sonata shows the South Korean auto maker is not slowing down. Sonata sales shot up 71% last month and are up 65% this year. Overall Hyundai sales are up 23% this year, more than double the industry average and the brand (along with its subsidiary Kia) has passed Nissan to become the sixth largest auto maker in the U.S.

I find Hyundai's rise interesting given some of the comments I occasionally hear in Detroit from auto executives who think Hyundai is a "quaint little story." Laugh if you want Detroit, but this is the same reaction many of you had about Toyota and Honda when they started surging,..and look where that got you.

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As for the Dodge Ram pick-up fighting to stay in the top 10 in sales, that shouldn't come as a surprise. Right now the Ford F-Series pick-up and Chevy Silverado are stengthening their leads over the Ram. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has spun Ram off to be its own brand, and I think that's the right move. Ram has a loyal following, but so do the F-Series and Silverado. It will be tough to cut into the leads of Chevy and Ford, but Ram could do it over time.

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