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Hyundai, Kia sales in China plunge on THAAD row

All Headlines 12:28 April 04, 2017

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- The number of vehicles sold in China by Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. in March fell sharply from a year earlier due to the ongoing trade row between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system, the companies said Tuesday.

The two South Korean automakers sold a combined 72,032 vehicles in China in March, down 52 percent from 150,592 units tallied a year earlier, corporate data showed.

It is the first time that combined monthly sales fell below the 100,000-unit mark since February 2016, when numbers stood at 95,235 units.

The sharp decline in China sales came amid escalating tension between the two trade partners over the stationing of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on South Korean soil.

China has explicitly opposed the THAAD deployment, arguing the system could be used against it. Seoul and Washington countered that the system is only aimed at defending against nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

Some consumers and companies in China have joined the government-led economic sanctions against South Korea and are holding campaigns against Korean-made vehicles and other products.

In this photo taken on April 3, 2017, a traffic light turns red against the background of the headquarters of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. in Yangjae, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

In March, Hyundai's overall sales plunged 44 percent to 56,026 units from 100,549 a year earlier. Kia's suffered a bigger decline, posting a 68 percent on-year drop to 16,006 units from 50,043, the data showed.

For the whole of 2016, Hyundai sold 1.14 million autos in China, up 7.5 percent from the previous year. Kia's sales rose 5.5 percent year-over-year to 650,005, the companies said.

If the current trade row continues, analysts said the carmakers will definitely sell fewer autos in the world's biggest automobile market this year.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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