Carmakers’ Sept. sales fall 8.5 pct due to fewer work days

October 1, 2018

SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) — The combined sales of South Korea’s five carmakers fell 8.5 percent in September from a year earlier as fewer working days led to reduced output and sales, corporate data showed Monday.

The five automakers — Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. — sold a total of 678,738 vehicles last month, down from 741,486 units a year earlier, the companies said.

The monthly sales declined as the carmakers shut down their plants for about a week to celebrate the Chuseok holidays in the last week of September.

Their domestic sales plunged 18 percent to 110,130 vehicles last month from 133,551 units a year ago. Overseas sales declined 6.5 percent to 568,608 autos from 607,935 during the same period, the data showed.

Corporate logos of Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. (Yonhap)

Corporate logos of Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. (Yonhap)

Most of the carmakers suffered sales declines last month as fewer work days resulted in reduced production at their plants.

Hyundai Motor sold 384,833 vehicles last month, down 6.6 percent from 412,150 units a year earlier. Sales of its 34 percent-owned affiliate Kia Motors declined 6.4 percent to 233,708 from 249,722 during the cited period.

The country’s two biggest automakers have yet to make a complete rebound in China, the world’s biggest automobile market, although things have improved this year. Their sales fell sharply in 2017 due to a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system called THAAD.

In the second half, Hyundai expects the all-new Santa Fe sport utility vehicle and the face-lifted Tucson SUV to bolster sales in major markets, such as the United States and China. Kia also expects the new K3 compact improve its standing in the U.S. in the coming months

Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world’s fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, aim to sell a total of 7.55 million vehicles globally in 2018, slightly higher than the 7.25 million units they sold last year.

Besides the two, three other South Korean carmakers struggled with weaker demand due to a lack of new models or lackluster demand for newly launched vehicles.

GM Korea, the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., which makes cars under the Chevrolet badge, posted a 14 percent on-year slump in sales to 34,816 autos in the one-month period compared to 40,264 a year earlier. Exports fell 12 percent to 27,382 from 31,273, and local sales were down 17 percent to 7,434 from 8,991.

The U.S.-made Equinox SUV and the upgraded Chevy Spark minicar, both launched in June, failed to significantly boost sales over the past three months.

In its broad self-rescue efforts, the GM unit plans to introduce 15 vehicles in the local market over the next five years. The Traverse SUV is the third model to be added to its lineup. GM owns a 77 percent stake in GM Korea.

Renault Samsung’s sales tumbled 44 percent on-year to 14,582 last month from 26,182, with exports plunging 58 percent to 7,869 from 18,820. Domestic sales fell 8.8 percent to 6,713 from 7,362. Renault S.A. owns an 80 percent stake in Renault Samsung.

SsangYong Motor sold 10,511 units last month, down 20 percent from 13,168 a year ago. Domestic sales dropped 19 percent to 7,689 from 9,465, and exports fell 16 percent to 3,110 from 3,703. Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. owns a 72.85 percent stake in the carmaker.

In the January-September period, overall sales of the five carmakers inched up 0.75 percent to 6.05 million vehicles from 6.01 million a year ago.