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Sales of South Korean carmakers remain flat in May

   Sales by South Korean automakers remained at a standstill last month from a year earlier, mainly due to fewer working days, data showed Monday.

   The combined sales of five local car manufacturers, including market leader Hyundai Motor Co., reached 746,978 vehicles in May, up just 80 units from 746,898 units a year ago. The total excludes knockdown kits shipped abroad for assembly. 

   The total represents a 6.9 percent drop from 802,657 vehicles sold in April.

   Carmakers said that the four-day-long holiday early in the month, coupled with many companies giving workers the day off for Labor Day on May 1, affected production and sales.

   In the one-month period, domestic sales edged up just 1.8 percent, as consumption numbers plunged in the wake of the Sewol ferry tragedy. A total of 304 people died or remain missing after the ferry sank off the country's southwestern coast on April 16.

   Overseas sales were down 0.3 percent to 625,739 units.

   Of the five local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Renault Samsung Motors Co., the local unit of French automaker Renault S.A., reported selling 7,400 vehicles in its home market, a 60.8 percent surge in sales vis-a-vis 4,602 units sold in May 2013.

   The carmaker said sales of its refreshed SM3 Neo compact car and QM3 small crossover SUV fueled gains. Renault Samsung said it sold 2,368 units, while sales of the QM3 hit 2,161.

   In addition to domestic sales, the carmaker sold 13,532 units abroad in May, an increase of 41.4 percent from the year before.

   Hyundai Motor's sales for last month moved up 3 percent to 414,961 units.

   The carmaker said it sold 59,911 cars in South Korea, up 3.4 percent from last year, with overseas sales gaining 2.9 percent to 355,050 units.

   Sales gains reflect popular demand for the carmaker's Genesis premium sedan and brand new Sonata midsize car.

   Hyundai's smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp.'s domestic sales, on the other hand, were down 8.2 percent to 36,252 units, with overseas sales gaining 1.5 percent to 217,366 units.

   Kia sold a total of 253,618 units, 63 less than 253,681 sold in the same one-month period in 2013.

   GM Korea Co. reported domestic sales moving up 5 percent to 12,405 units, with sales of its Chevrolet Spark jumping 13.4 percent to 5,106 units.

   Exports, on the other hand, were down 28.6 percent to 40,390 units, with total sales standing at 52,795, a drop of 22.8 percent from last year.

   Ssangyong Motor Co., a local unit of Indian sport utility vehicle (SUV) maker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., said it sold 5,271 units in South Korea, effectively unchanged from 5,270 units a year ago. It reported overseas sales dipping 4.7 percent to 6,801 units, as demand for its Korando C-series SUVs lost some momentum. (Yonhap News)

Korea Herald daum