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Hyundai, Kia ramp up push in Europe with SUV models

All Headlines 10:22 March 03, 2016

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. -- South Korea's two major automakers -- are showcasing major sport utility vehicle models at a motor show in Geneva in a bid to strengthen their presence in what is deemed to be one of just a few growing markets this year, market observers said Thursday.

At the motor show underway in the European city, which kicked off earlier this month, the two South Korean carmakers put their latest versions of the Tucson and the Sportage on display, as they are eyeing the steadily growing market there.

The Hyundai Tucson crossover SUV, which is one of its major lineups in Europe, saw its monthly sales reach 11,708 units in January, an all-time high since its launch in July last year.

Kia Motors also launched the sale of the new Sportage in February in major European markets, including Germany and France, apparently hoping that it would serve as a key model to target the European market this year.

Europe is regarded as one of just a few bright spots along with the United States where auto demand is expected to grow, bucking the overall slumping mood in the global automobile industry.

Buoyed by its eased monetary policy, experts say that the European economy is likely to keep recovering this year. In line with these optimistic views, demand for new automobiles is also expected to increase for the time being.

According to data compiled by a local automobile association, car sales in Europe expanded 9 percent on-year in 2014 to nearly 16 million units. Some experts here projected a 2 percent growth in auto sales there this year.

Standing in stark contrast are other emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and other Middle Eastern countries hard-hit by falling crude oil prices. In particular, car sales in Brazil and Russia are expected to remain weak in 2016 following 9 percent and 4 percent declines last year.

Against this backdrop, global carmakers seem to be ramping up their push in Europe, especially seeking to target the crossover SUV market, a major car segment in Europe.

"As Europe is expected to fare relatively well against the global slump, competition could get red-hot among major carmakers there," a market expert said. "With many new crossover SUVs unveiled with strengthened product quality, whether to win or not in this particular segment will likely determine the whole business in Europe this year."
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