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Carmakers' Jan. sales fall 5.5 pct on weak overseas demand

Autos 18:18 February 01, 2019

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- Vehicle sales of South Korea's five carmakers fell 5.5 percent last month from a year earlier on weak overseas demand, corporate data showed Friday.

The five carmakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 586,039 vehicles in January, down from 620,175 units sold a year ago, according to their sales data.

The overall sales figure was affected by weak demand in major markets, such as China and the United States, the world's two biggest automobile markets.

Domestic sales rose 4.5 percent to 117,464 vehicles last month from 112,452 units a year ago. But overseas sales declined 7.7 percent to 468,575 autos from 507,723 during the cited period, the data showed.

Carmakers' Jan. sales fall 5.5 pct on weak overseas demand - 1

Hyundai's sales fell 7.7 percent to 313,313 units last month from 339,374 a year ago due to lackluster sales in the U.S. and China.

But sales of its 34 percent-owned affiliate Kia rose 1.2 percent to 208,908 from 206,348 during the same period on improved domestic demand for its sport-utility vehicles.

This year, the two carmakers said they will focus more on reviving sales, particularly in the U.S. and China, by launching a total of 13 new or facelifted models.

As for challenges ahead, they expect the ongoing trade war between the so-called G-2 economies and slowing global economy to remain major hurdles for Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales.

The two carmakers have set a conservative target of 7.55 million vehicles for 2019 after missing their target for 2018. They sold 7.4 million units last year.

The companies have been struggling with a decline in sales in major markets after failing to recognize consumers' growing appetite for SUVs.

Hyundai launched the all-new Santa Fe sport utility vehicle and the face-lifted Tucson SUV in the U.S. last year. Kia introduced the new K3 compact in the U.S. But the models didn't buoy overall sales as expected.

This year, Hyundai and Kia plan to launch the Palisade flagship SUV and the upgraded Soul boxcar in the U.S. and other markets to stimulate sales.

Weaker overseas demand further weighed on sales of GM Korea and Renault Samsung Motors.

GM Korea, the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., reported a 8.7 percent on-year decline in January sales to 38.705 autos from 42,401 a year ago. GM Korea launched the U.S.-made Equinox SUV and the upgraded Chevy Spark mini car in June last year, but they didn't help.

Renault Samsung's sales plunged 37 percent to 13,693 last month from 21,847 a year ago due to lack of new models.

But SsangYong Motor's sales slightly recovered on robust demand for the Rexton Sports SUV. Sales rose 7.7 percent to 10,988 from 10,205.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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