By Choi Kyong-ae
SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean vehicle sales remained weak last month, suffering a 1.9 percent on-year decline amid a slump at home and abroad, industry data showed Monday.
The country's five carmakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 707,009 vehicles in November, compared with 720,706 units a year earlier, according to the companies' monthly sales data.
The lackluster sales were mainly driven by lower demand in China and emerging markets amid uncertainties over a yearlong trade battle between the United States and China -- the world's two biggest automobile markets.
Domestic sales declined 2.5 percent to 136,414 units last month from 139,862 a year ago, and overseas sales decreased 1.8 percent to 570,595 autos from 580,844 over the cited period.
Hyundai and Kia, the country's two biggest carmakers by sales, reported no significant rebound in sales last month due to weak sales in China, the world's biggest automobile market.
For the rest of the year, they said they will focus on promoting new vehicles, such as the Grandeur sedan and the Kia K5 sedan, to bolster their sales.
Hyundai's sales fell 2.8 percent to 392,247 units last month from 403,368 a year earlier. On the other hand, sales at its smaller affiliate, Kia, rose 0.8 percent to 248,942 from 246,942 during the same period.
Kia's Sportage SUV drove up its sales last month and Hyundai's upgraded Grandeur sedan helped its sales last month, the companies said.
The two, which aim to achieve their sales target of 7.55 million vehicles for this year, sold a combined 6.57 million units from January to November, down 2.7 percent from 6.75 million units in the year-ago period, the data showed.
Hyundai and Kia said they will continue to launch more localized models in China, though demand in the world's largest automobile market is not expected to perk up for the time being.
In China, Hyundai and Kia have been suffering declining sales due to tougher competition and lack of new models, though political tensions between Seoul and Beijing caused by the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, called THAAD, in South Korea in 2017 have since eased.
In the second quarter, the carmakers reorganized their production lines in China to avoid any excessive inventory amid sluggish sales.
Hyundai shut down its No. 1 Beijing plant, one of five in China whose combined capacity reaches 1.65 million vehicles. Kia also halted production at one of its three plants whose capacity is 890,000 units.
Their combined sales in China from January to September fell 10 percent to 907,088 vehicles from 1,013,194 units in the year-ago period.
Renault Samsung and SsangYong Motor posted on-year declines in November sales, but GM Korea reported an on-year gain.
GM Korea's sales rose 1.8 percent to 39,317 units in November from 38,621 helped by increased sales of the midsize Colorado pickup truck and the Traverse SUV.
The company launched the Colorado in September and the Traverse last month. It is also considering adding the full-size Tahoe SUV to the lineup to meet rising demand for SUVs.
Renault Samsung's sales plunged 15 percent to 15,749 from 18,601 during the same period. SsangYong Motor's declined 18 percent to 10,754 from 13,030.
From January to November, the five firms' overall sales fell 3.7 percent to 7.23 million from 7.51 million in the same period of last year, the data showed.
BOK to be on hold this time, but possible rate cut ahead
Possibility of S. Korean rate cut looms after U.S. rate reduction
Foreign capital inflows indicate room for S. Korean monetary policy
BOK's rate cut on the table amid increased downside risks
BOK faces quandary over call for rate cut