UPDATE : 2018.9.24 MON 04:34
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S. Korean carmakers' Oct. sales fall 10 pct on long holidays, weak demand

South Korea's five carmakers said Wednesday their combined sales fell 10 percent on-year last month due to fewer working days and weak demand.

The five automakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 690,326 vehicles in October, down from 766,944 units a year earlier, according to the companies' sales data.

Their domestic sales fell 11 percent to 112,729 cars last month from the previous year's 126,660 units. Overseas sales also declined 9.8 percent to 577,597 autos from 640,284 during the same period a year earlier, the latest findings showed.

The monthly numbers were mainly affected by a smaller number of working days due to the Chuseok holiday in the first week of October and sharp sales declines in China amid Seoul's diplomatic row with Beijing over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system here.

Lower demand from China, the world's biggest automobile market, was a major drag for Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors. In the January-September period, their combined sales in the neighboring country plunged 42 percent to 702,017 units from 1.20 million a year earlier.

South Korea and China have been at odds over the deployment of THAAD, an advanced U.S. missile defense system, in South Korea, which China objects to for military reasons.

Last month, Hyundai sold a total of 394,078 cars, down 4.3 percent from 411,803 a year earlier. Sales by its sister company Kia fell 10.4 percent on-year to 231,275 last month.

To help revive sluggish sales, they plan to launch a series of new models in major markets, such as the United States and Europe, later this year.

Hyundai began to ship the Kona subcompact SUV to Australia and other overseas markets in September, with Kia shipping the Stonic subcompact SUV to Europe from July. Hyundai also plans to introduce the luxury G70 sedan under the independent Genesis brand in global markets from late this year.

These two carmakers have struggled with the lack of new, competitive crossovers in the U.S. and European markets. Globally, the demand for recreational vehicles is on the rise due to low gas prices and general economic recovery.

They expect sales in China to gradually improve, as Seoul and Beijing just recently said they have reached an understanding to swiftly bring bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all areas back onto a "normal track," following months of tensions over the THAAD issue.

SsangYong Motor, the Korean unit of Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., sold 10,744 cars last month, down 22 percent from 13,728 a year earlier. The SUV-focused carmaker launched its flagship G4 Rexton SUV in Europe in September.

GM Korea's sales plunged 38 percent on-year to 34,535 autos last month due to weaker domestic sales. Renault Samsung's fell 29.6 percent to 19,694 from 27,968 during the same period.

The local units of General Motors Co. and Renault S.A. have struggled in the Korean market due to a lack of new models and tough competition with bigger rivals, such as Hyundai and overseas carmakers.

From January to October, the five sold a combined 6.69 million autos, down 5.8 percent from 7.11 million units in the same period a year earlier, the data showed.

Hwi Won  edt@koreapost.com

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