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Hyundai, Kia see China sales drop in March but downward pace slows: data

All Headlines 08:14 April 05, 2016

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top two carmakers -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp. -- saw their sales in China decline in March, but the downward pace slowed significantly, showing signs of a possible rebound from a long-haul slump, company data showed Tuesday.

The two companies sold a combined 148,599 cars in China last month, down 6.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the preliminary data obtained by the English division of Yonhap News Agency. This marked the third straight month that sales in China have shrunk.

Following the previous month's revised 21.9 percent plunge, however, the downward pace slowed markedly, the data showed. The sales data are preliminary and could be adjusted later.

"Thanks to their launch of new models, such as the Avante and the Sportage, sales seem to have improved from the previous months," an analyst said on condition of anonymity.

"Things will get better in the months to come due in part to the continued positive effect from such new models, along with the base effect from the marked falls seen from April last year," he added.

Hyundai Motor sold 100,549 vehicles last month in the world's largest auto market, down 2.2 percent from a year earlier, but its sales surged 88.9 percent from the previous month. Kia Motors' sales shrank 15.7 percent on-year to 48,050 units but also posted an 11.9 percent hike from the month before, the data showed.

Despite the relatively strong sales in March, their quarterly business in China remained anemic.

During the first quarter, Hyundai Motor's cumulative sales came to 229,011 units there, down 18.2 percent from the same period a year earlier, while Kia Motors posted a 10.4 percent decline by selling 138,292 units, the latest data showed.

China is regarded as one of the most important markets for export-driven Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, which have been struggling to prop up their overseas sales due in part to slumping business there for months.

In March, overseas sales by Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors fell 2.2 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively, according to their recent data.

Last year, Hyundai Motor's overseas business sales were hard hit by its slumping sales in China, one of two major overseas markets, along with the United States. Its sales in China shrank 5.1 percent on-year in 2015.

The anemic business results were one of the reasons that Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors failed to meet their annual sales target last year. Their sales stood at around 8 million units in 2015, which were below its target of 8.2 million.

Hyundai Motor Group, which holds the two carmaking giants under its wing, earlier said it aims to sell 8.13 million cars globally this year, lowering its business target from the previous year in a rare move.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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