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S. Korean Auto Sales Up 28.3 Percent in Feb.
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South Korea's five automakers, led by market leader Hyundai Motor Co., reported a 28.3 percent on-year jump in sales in February on a solid rise in demand at home and abroad, data showed Friday.

The combined sales of the carmakers came to 689,915 vehicles last month, compared with 537,631 units sold a year earlier, according to the data released by the companies.

Domestic shipments rose 5.6 percent on-year to a combined 112,905 last month. Overseas sales, including cars exported from South Korea and vehicles assembled at foreign plants, reached 577,010 units, up 34 from 430,697 reach a year earlier.

The automakers also include Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co.

"With the exception of Renault Samsung, whose domestic sales declined from the year before, carmakers reported sales gains in both the South Korean and overseas markets," an industry insider said.

Sales were helped by more working days last month than in the previous year, with the launch of new cars such as Kia's Ray city car and GM Korea's Alpheon and Captiva hybrid cars also contributing to improved numbers, he said.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor sold 360,979 vehicles last month, compared with 281,284 units a year earlier.


"Strong overseas sales pushed up production at our U.S., China, India, Czech and Russian plants, but domestic numbers did not meet expectations," said Hyundai Motor in a statement.

The country's No. 1 carmaker said local sales in the first two months of 2012 fell 5.7 percent, although this was offset by a 20.1 percent on-year rise in exports.

Hyundai's smaller affiliate Kia said sales in South Korea did not meet expectations as the economy struggled to make meaningful headway. Kia's monthly sales soared 35.5 percent on-year to 240,124 vehicles last month, vis-a-vis 177,276 units a year earlier.

GM Korea, which makes cars under the Chevrolet brand, and Ssangyong, a unit of Indian sport utility vehicle (SUV) maker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., said they posted double digit growth last month.

Renault Samsung, which did not do well last year, said sales for February contracted 2.4 percent from a year earlier. The company sold 16,987 vehicles last month, compared with 17,408 units a year earlier.

Market watchers and carmakers said that despite lingering economic uncertainty, sales should increase in the coming months.

"Fierce competition is expected in the global market but South Korean carmakers should continue to see sales gains," an analyst said.

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Source: Yonhap News (Mar. 2, 2012)

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