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South Korean auto manufacturers topped 8 million vehicles sold last year for the
first time as steady overseas sales offset sluggish domestic demand amid a
slowdown in the global economy, industry data showed Wednesday.
Combined sales of five car manufacturers led by Hyundai Motor Co. reached 8.2 million vehicles last year, up 5.6 percent from 7.76 million units sold in 2011.
Domestic sales dropped 4.2 percent from a year earlier to 1.4 million vehicles due to low local demand, while overseas sales climbed 8 percent to 6.79 million units.
The four other carmakers are Kia Motors Co., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co.
sales increase was led by Hyundai and Kia, which are the flagship companies of
Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest automotive group.
Their combined sales reached 7.12 million vehicles last year, up 8 percent from 6.6 million, exceeding its earlier sales target of 7 million units.
Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo said earlier Wednesday that his company seeks to sell 7.41 million units this year, with 4.66 million units coming from Hyundai and 2.75 million units for Kia, amid the deepening global economic downturn and a delayed recovery.
Hyundai posted a total of 4.4 million units in sales last year, up 8.6 percent on-year, despite a 2.3 percent drop in domestic sales.
The carmaker's overseas sales jumped 10.9 percent to 3.73
million units, boosting the total sales, with Hyundai cars manufactured at
overseas plants reaching 2.5 million units compared to 1.23 million units made
in Korea and sold abroad.
The Avante compact was Hyundai's
best-selling model last year with 862,741 units sold worldwide, followed by the
Accent subcompact with 700,666 units.
However, its domestic sales moved 2.3 percent fewer vehicles, down to 667,777 units. The Avante was the most popular model among South Korean consumers, with 111,290 units sold, while the Sonata midsize sedan ranked second with 103,994 units.
"Last year, steady overseas sales made up for the loss in the domestic market," said Hyundai in a statement. "Market condition is expected to remain sluggish in the new year. We will redouble our best efforts to improve our competitiveness and deal with the worsening environment."
Its smaller affiliate Kia was also on a roll at home and abroad last year posting a 7.1 percent sales growth with 2.720 million units, on the back of steady-selling models and new cars.
The Pride subcompact was the most popular Kia car last year with 380,064 units sold worldwide, beating the Forte compact, the former No. 1, with 349,000 units sold.
Kia's overseas sales jumped 9.4 percent on-year to 2.23 million units last year, with its cars produced in its overseas lines topping 1 million units for the first time.
GM Korea, the local unit of General Motors Co. of the United States, sold 145,702 units in the domestic market, up 3.6 percent on-year, marking the highest-ever sales record since the U.S. carmaker entered the South Korean market in 2002.
Spark mini car led the upbeat sales, with 64,763 units sold last year, and sales
of the Malibu midsize sedan more than tripled to 13,210 units.
Its overseas shipments slipped 1.9 percent on-year to 809,639 units.
"We are pleased with our best full-year sales in Korea since our company's establishment in 2002 and our best monthly sales in 24 months," said Ankush Arora, GM Korea's vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, in a statement. "This corresponded with a growth in customer satisfaction. We are looking forward to a continuation of the trend in 2013."
No. 4 player Renault Samsung Motor, the South Korean unit of French automaker Renault SA, remained in a slump throughout 2012, with sales plunging 37.5 percent on-year to 154,309 units.
Fewer local consumers opted for its flagship SM series sedans as sales of the SM 5, the midsize sedan, and the SM 7, the large luxury sedan, fell 34.8 percent and 70.4 percent, respectively.
The smallest Ssangyong Motor, the local unit of Indian sport utility vehicle (SUV) maker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., posted an upbeat 2012 sales of 120,717 vehicles, up 6.8 percent, on the back of the popularity of its new models.
Domestic sales surged 23.4 percent on-year to 47,700 units as its new Korando C and Korando Sports SUVs posted a 57.2 percent and a 86.7 percent on-year growth in sales, respectively, last year.
For December, overall sales for the five carmakers gained 2.7 percent on-year to 715,500 units. Domestic sales rose 4.8 percent on-year to 135,669 units, with exports up 2.3 percent to 579,831 units.
Last year's tally showed Hyundai and Kia's strong market dominance, with a combined share of 81.9 percent in the domestic car market, followed by GM Korea with 10.4 percent, Renault Samsung with 4.3 percent and Ssangyong with 3.4 percent.