Hyundai, Kia say domestic output surpassed Toyota

October 17, 2014
(Korea Times file)

(Korea Times file)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Hyundai Motor Co. and its sister Kia Motors Corp., South Korea’s top two carmakers, said Thursday their domestic production surpassed that of Toyota Motor Corp. of Japan, an indication that they are not pulling away from investing at home.

The local output of Hyundai and Kia vehicles reached 2.42 million units in the January-August period, according to the data provided by Hyundai Motor Group, the holding firm of the two carmakers. The number is 215,036 higher than the 2.2 million units produced by Toyota at its Japanese plants during the same period, the group said.

Should the two sister companies keep up the pace, it may mark the second consecutive year for the automakers to outdo their Japanese rival. In 2013, Hyundai and Kia’s total domestic output eclipsed that of Toyota by 92,691 units.

The South Korean firms had already outpaced Toyota once before in 2011, but it was largely due to the earthquake and tsunami that left Japan drastically cutting production.

Despite what the latest data indicates, the two automakers have been under fire regarding their overseas expansion of production plants, as skeptics suggested they may be trying to pull out from investing in their home country.

“Outrunning Toyota in domestic output shows that (Hyundai and Kia) contribute more to our home country’s economy than does Toyota to its own,” officials from Hyundai and Kia said.

Earlier in August, Kia had announced plans to build a US$1 billion plant with an annual production capacity of 300,000 compact cars in Mexico by 2016. Hyundai is currently awaiting approval from the Chinese government to build a factory in the city of Chongqing.

Although local production of the sister firms has, in fact, been trending lower in the past few years, they still have the capacity to churn out 3.63 million units on domestic soil alone this year, higher than the output of 3.45 million units in 2013.

Nearly half, or 46 percent, of all Hyundai and Kia vehicles produced are from plants in South Korea, while the remaining 54 percent are made overseas.

Looking at Kia alone, local output capacity for the year came to 1.76 million units, exceeding the 1.34 million units from overseas factories.