The five automakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a total of 631,870 vehicles in August, down from 642,170 units a year earlier, according to the companies' sales data.
Their domestic sales fell 12 percent to 120,847 cars last month from the previous year's 107,677 units. Overseas sales also declined 4.4 percent to 511,023 autos from 534,493 during the same period, the data showed.
Lower demand from China, the world's biggest automobile market, was a major drag on the carmakers, with export gains by GM Korea and Renault Samsung helping to offset their sluggish domestic sales.
Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world's fifth-largest carmaker by sales, suffered the most in vehicle sales in China. The two carmakers saw their sales there plunge 41 percent and 54 percent, respectively, to 351,292 units and 149,672 in the January-July period.
Seoul and Beijing have been at odds over the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system called THAAD in South Korea, which China objects to due to military reasons. Local campaigns against South Korean products affected sales of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in China.
In August, Hyundai Motor sold a total of 336,625 cars, down 6 percent from a year earlier. Sales by its sister brand Kia Motors rose 1 percent year-over-year to 222,740 last month, the companies said.
To help revive sluggish sales, they plan to launch a series of new models in their major markets later this year.
Kia began to ship the Stonic subcompact SUV to Europe in July. Hyundai plans to gradually ship the Kona subcompact SUV to Australia and other overseas markets from September. Hyundai also plans to introduce the luxury G70 sedan under the independent Genesis brand in global markets from late this year following its domestic launch on Sept. 15.
The two carmakers have struggled with the lack of new, competitive crossovers in the US and European markets. Globally, the demand for recreational vehicles is on the rise due to low gas prices and the recovering economy.
SsangYong Motor sold a total of 11,725 cars last month, down 3.7 percent from a year earlier. The SUV-focused carmaker plans to launch its flagship G4 Rexton SUV in Europe this month to boost sales.
GM Korea's sales rose 15 percent from a year earlier to 41,311 autos last month. Renault Samsung's climbed 28 percent year-on-year to 19,469 units.
From January to August, the five automakers sold a combined 5.26 million autos, down 6.8 percent from 5.65 million units tallied a year earlier, the data showed. (Yonhap)