Overseas production by South Korean carmakers reached record high numbers in January, with output expected to grow further in the future, industry data showed Monday.
According to data released by automotive associations and carmakers, overseas production by Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. reached 378,867 units in the one month period, up 4.3 percent from the year before. This accounts for 56.6 percent of all cars sold by the two companies during the month.
The previous monthly record was 362,627 units produced overseas in April of last year.
The latest data showed Hyundai overseas production rising 2.4 percent on-year to 258,567 units, with numbers for Kia jumping 8.7 percent to 120,300 vehicles.
Hyundai and Kia are flagship companies of Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest automotive conglomerate. They are the two largest original car equipment manufacturers in the country, with their combined sales hitting 7.86 million in 2013 and 668,839 units in the first month of this year.
"Both carmakers have been stepping up efforts to build production lines closer to buyers and make products specifically tailored to individual markets that have contributed to growth," a market watcher said.
He added that fluctuations in exchange rates and labor disputes at home have pushed the carmakers to increase output from their foreign assembly lines.
Hyundai's Turkey plant that can produce some 200,000 units per year has adopted a three-shift production system to meet demand for cars such as the super mini i10. Kia, with plants in the United States, Slovakia and China, has also moved to increase overtime work overseas to make more cars.
Related to the trend, industry insiders predicted that overseas production in 2014 will surpass 4,108,055 units logged last year when such figures by Hyundai and Kia surpassed the 4 million mark for the first time.
Experts pointed out that the two companies, in particular, are moving to aggressively expand their presence in China this year that can bolster numbers.
The world's largest automarket is likely to grow 7.9 percent on-year.
Both carmakers said they plan to increase production capacity by some 450,000 units this year to augment the nearly 1.5 million units that they can produce in the country at present. (Yonhap News)