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Carmakers' Dec sales fall 15.7 pct as demand weakens

All News 18:51 January 02, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's five carmakers said Tuesday their combined sales fell 15.7 percent last month from a year earlier on weak overseas demand.

The five automakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 719,702 vehicles in December, down from 853,966 units, according to the companies' sales data.

Their domestic sales backtracked 15.8 percent to 132,315 autos last month from 157,145 units a year ago. Overseas sales dropped 15.7 percent to 587,387 from 696,821 during the same period, the numbers showed.

The monthly results were mainly affected by slowing growth in demand, particularly from China and the United States. Hyundai and Kia suffered the most due to sharp sales declines in the world's biggest automobile market. Sales in China were hit hard by Seoul's diplomatic row with Beijing over the deployment in South Korea of an advanced U.S. missile defense system called THAAD.

China opposed THAAD's installation on the Korean peninsula for military reasons, though South Korea and the U.S. said the anti-missile system was purely aimed at deterring missile threats from North Korea.

In the January-October period, Hyundai's sales in China plunged 48 percent on-year to 255,182 units from 493,695. Kia's dropped 34 percent to 569,356 from 869,000.

Affected by poor performance in the world's biggest automobile market, Hyundai's sales plunged 17 percent on-year to 406,671 last month. Kia's also fell 17 percent to 226,842.

The two carmakers expected spreading protectionism in the U.S. and other major markets and low global economic growth trend to remain major worries for them this year.

To cope with such challenges and boost sales, the sedan-heavy carmakers said they will introduce new and upgraded sport utility vehicles in global markets. They also plan to quickly respond to local needs in each market to achieve their combined sales target of 7.55 million vehicles for 2018.

Last year, they sold a total of 7.25 million units, missing their annual target of 8.25 million.

Three other carmakers also suffered declines in the monthly sales due to weak overseas sales.

GM Korea posted a 16 percent on-year drop in December sales to 45,466 due to a steep decline in exports. Renault Samsung reported a 19 percent on-year sales decline to 26,515 last month on weaker domestic sales. SsangYong Motor's December sales fell 15 percent on-year to 14,208 as exports plunged.

For the whole of 2017, the five carmakers' overall sales fell 6.9 percent to 8.19 million cars from 8.8 million tallied in the previous year.

Carmakers' Dec sales fall 15.7 pct as demand weakens - 1

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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