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Japanese auto manufacturers consider Korea's Hyundai to be their biggest threat, according to a report by The Associated Press.

As automakers around the world struggle to survive the weakened economy and up-and-coming Chinese companies seek to make a name for themselves, Hyundai has emerged as a major player.

"Hyundai is awesome," Honda Motor Co. chief executive Takanobu Ito told The Associated Press. "They are undoubtedly a threat because their products are cheap, and the quality is improving."

Shiro Nakamura, senior vice-president of Nissan Motor Co., agrees, calling Hyundai "the biggest threat for the Japanese automakers."

Hyundai, with help from its subsidiary Kia, is the fifth-largest automotive group in the world, recently climbing to take 5% of the global market share despite the poor economy. Even worse news for Honda and Nissan, the Korean manufacturer is number two in Japanese sales, behind only Toyota.

In the U.S., Hyundai has been very strong, being the only manufacturer to have better sales (up 27%) in September 2009 than in the same month last year.
More: Report: Honda CEO Calls Hyundai "Awesome" on
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