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Korean carmakers' July sales down on pandemic; domestic sales up 10 pct

All News 17:46 August 03, 2020

By Choi Kyong-ae

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean carmakers' auto sales fell 9.2 percent last month from a year earlier as overseas demand remained weak amid the new coronavirus outbreak, but their domestic sales spiked 10 percent, industry data showed Monday.

The five carmakers in South Korea -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 584,042 vehicles in July, down from 642,973 units a year ago, according to data from the companies.

A reduction in individual consumption taxes in the country and decreased overseas demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic drove down their monthly sales results, the companies said.

These photos show logos of the country's five carmakers: (clockwise from top L) Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, SsangYong Motor, GM Korea and Renault Samsung Motors. (Yonhap)

The five carmakers' domestic sales rose 10 percent to 144,422 units in July from 131,135 a year ago, helped by robust sales of Hyundai and Kia's new models.

The models include Hyundai's Grandeur sedan the G80 sedan and GV80 sport utility vehicle sold under Hyundai's independent Genesis brand.

Their overseas sales fell 14 percent to 439,620 from 511,838 during the same period, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowdown, particularly in advanced countries such as the United States.

In July, Hyundai's sales fell 13 percent to 313,097 units from 357,862, while Kia's dropped 3 percent to 219,901 from 226,600 during the same period.

Hyundai and Kia, the country's two biggest carmakers, suspended operations of their major overseas plants until late May, and overseas parent firms of the three other carmakers reduced production to control inventories amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Production at the five carmakers' plants falls short of the levels before the coronavirus outbreak hit the automobile industry early this year.

Hyundai and Kia said they will continue to make efforts to minimize the negative impact of the coronavirus on vehicle sales in global markets while focusing on securing stable sales networks despite the virus.

Given the carmakers sold a total of 3,305,080 units in the January-June period, they are likely to miss their sales target of 7.54 million cars for this year.

The two carmakers had planned to focus on boosting sales in the U.S. market this year to offset sluggish demand in China, the world's biggest automobile market.

They originally planned to launch Hyundai's Tucson sport utility vehicle, the Genesis GV80 SUV and G80 sedan and Kia's Sportage SUV in the U.S. later this year, but they are still awaiting shipment to the U.S. due to the pandemic.

This photo taken on April 8, 2020, shows vehicles lined up at Hyundai Motor's port in Ulsan, about 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Renault Samsung and SsangYong Motor also performed poorly amid the pandemic.

Renault Samsung's sales plunged 44 percent to 8,923 units last month from 15,874 a year earlier. SsangYong Motor's declined 29 percent to 7,459 from 10,498 during the same period.

To revive sales, Renault Samsung has yet to secure export volume for the XM3 compact SUV from its French parent Renault S.A. to replace the now-suspended output volume of Nissan Motor Co.'s Rogue SUV at its sole plant in Busan, 450 kilometers south of Seoul.

Renault Samsung used to produce about 100,000 Rogues a year for export under a manufacturing contract with Nissan. But the production stopped in March, as Nissan cut the output allocation to the plant, citing output losses caused by labor strikes.

SsangYong's Indian parent Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.'s recent decision not to invest in the Korean unit dealt a bigger blow to the SUV-focused carmaker's sales.

In contrast, GM Korea reported an increase in sales last month.

GM Korea's sales rose 8.7 percent in July to 34,632 from 31,851 a year ago on strong sales of its SUV models such as the Trailblazer and Traverse SUVs and the Colorado pickup truck.

From January to July, the five carmakers sold a total of 3,639,246 autos, down 19 percent from 4,509,202 in the same period of last year.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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