UPDATE : 2018.9.21 FRI 09:12
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Carmakers' Feb. sales fall 9.8 pct on fewer work days, low demand

The combined sales of South Korea's five carmakers fell 9.8 percent last month from a year earlier due to fewer working days and generally weak demand, corporate data showed Friday.

The five automakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a total of 567,919 vehicles in February, down from 629,888 units a year earlier, according to the companies' sales data.

Their domestic sales plunged 11.9 percent to 105,432 autos last month from 119,612 units a year ago. Overseas sales were down 9.4 percent to 462,487 from 510,276 during the same period, the data showed.

Sales abroad were affected by slowing growth in demand, particularly from China and the United States. Domestically, fewer working days drove down sales as the Lunar New Year holidays fell in mid-February. The previous year, the traditional holiday fell in late January.

Hyundai Motor sold a total of 310,148 autos last month, down 8.1 percent from 337,544 units a year earlier. Its affiliate Kia's overall sales also fell 9.1 percent to 195,962 from 215,580 during the same period.

With spreading protectionism in advanced markets as well as a low global economic growth trend expected to remain major hurdles going forward, the country's two biggest carmakers plan to promote a series of new models to bolster sales.

To take advantage of booming SUV demand in the U.S., Hyundai plans to launch the Kona subcompact SUV in March and the all-new midsize Santa Fe in the world's most important automobile market this summer. Kia plans to launch the Stonic subcompact SUV within this year in the U.S. market, where the Stinger sports car is already available.

Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker, aim to achieve a combined sales target of 7.55 million vehicles for 2018, slightly higher than the 7.25 million units they sold last year.

GM Korea, the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., posted a 19 percent on-year drop in February sales to 36,725 from 45,366 due to a steep decline in domestic sales. Its domestic sales plunged 48 percent to 5,804 from 11,227 during the cited period, with exports down 9.4 percent to 30,921 from 34,139.

Last month, GM announced that it will shut down one of its four car assembly plants in South Korea by May due to low productivity and determine the fate of the remaining plants within weeks. The Detroit carmaker is in talks with the Seoul government to find ways to turn GM's loss-making Korean unit around as it employs 16,000 Korean workers.

GM owns a 77 percent stake in GM Korea, with the state-run Korea Development Bank and SAIC Motor Corp. controlling 17 percent and six percent, respectively. Seoul plans to quickly conduct due diligence on GM Korea's financial status and its parent company's investment plans in its Korean unit to decide on whether to provide financial support to the GM unit.

SsangYong Motor reported an 11 percent on-year sales decline to 9,090 units last month from 10,816 on weak exports. Renault Samsung's sales declined 22 percent on-year to 15,994 last month from 20,582 on weaker demand for its vehicles.

In the January-February period, the combined sales of the five automakers fell 4.4 percent to 1.19 million vehicles from 1.25 million a year ago, the latest findings showed. (Yonhap)

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koreapost.com

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