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Korean car firms’ April sales rise on strong exports

Most local carmakers saw April sales rise by varying degrees from a year ago aided by increasing overseas sales.

The only exception was Renault Samsung Motors Co., due to production cuts brought on by the parts shortage after the March 11 earthquake in Japan.

However, the company resumed weekday production at normal levels on Monday, and plans to restart Saturday production from March 14.

Last month, Renault Samsung’s domestic sales came in at just over 6,700 units, down by more than 50 percent from a year earlier.

The company’s exports dropped 33.3 percent to 15,988 units.

While Renault Samsung suffered setbacks, Ssangyong Motor Co. led last month’s rise in terms of year-on-year increase with domestic and overseas sales rising 46.8 percent compared to the same month last year.

The company’ domestic sales rose 50.4 percent while exports increased 44.6 percent, pushing up the total to over 10,000 units for the second consecutive month.

Ssangyong attributed the improvements to the popularity of its new compact crossover utility vehicle Korando C. With more than 4,000 units of the vehicle sold here and abroad, the Korando C accounts for about 40 percent of Ssangyong’s monthly sales.

Ssangyong was followed by the country’s second-largest carmaker Kia Motors Corp., which posted a record first quarter, figures on Friday. In April, Kia sold 10.4 percent more vehicles on the domestic market than it did last year, while overseas sales increased 19.9 percent, pushing up the total by 17.8 percent to 205,603 units.

Much of Kia’s rise in overseas markets was fueled by improving performance from its overseas plants, whose sales jumped 32.2 percent from a year ago.

Kia’s sister carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. also posted stable growth rate. Hyundai’s domestic sales in April came in at just over 60,000 units, up 8.6 percent from the same month last year, while overseas sales rose 10 percent to come in at about 281,000 units.

GM Korea Co., which adopted the Chevrolet brand earlier this year, continued to see strong growth in the domestic market. Aided by strong performances from the city car Spark and the new multipurpose vehicle Orlando, GM Korea’s domestic sales rose 19.4 percent.

With exports rising 6.3 percent, the company’s overall April sales increased by 8.5 percent from a year earlier to come in at 71,608 units.

By Choi He-suk  (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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