South Korea's five carmakers said Friday their combined sales fell 12 percent last month from a year earlier mainly due to weak overseas demand.
The five automakers -- Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors and SsangYong Motor -- sold a combined 762,967 vehicles in November, down from 868,842 units a year earlier, according to the companies' sales data.
Their domestic sales declined 3.1 percent to 140,342 autos last month from 144,814 units a year ago. Overseas sales dropped 14 percent to 622,625 from 724,028 during the same period, the data said.
The monthly results were mainly affected by lower overseas demand, particularly from China. Hyundai and Kia suffered the most due to sharp sales declines in the world's biggest automobile market. Sales in China were hit by Seoul's diplomatic row with Beijing over the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system in South Korea.
China opposed the stationing of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense on the Korean peninsula for military reasons, though South Korea and the US said the anti-missile system was purely aimed at deterring missile threats from North Korea.
In the January-October period, Hyundai's sales in China plunged 48 percent on-year to 255,182 from 493,695. Kia's dropped 34 percent to 569,356 from 869,000.
In November, Hyundai sold 422,940 autos, down 10.4 percent from 472,015 a year earlier. Sales by its sister company Kia fell 14.7 percent over the same timeframe to 259,643 from 304,507.
The two carmakers, which together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, said low demand in major markets had an impact on their monthly sales figures.
To help revive sluggish sales, they have launched or will launch a series of new models, such as Kia's face-lifted Sorento SUV this week and Hyundai's Kona small SUV in January, the companies said.
Hyundai and Kia were late arrivals to the crossover market and struggled to expand their market share because they did not have new and competitive SUVs in the US and European markets. Globally, the demand for recreational vehicles is on the rise due to low gas prices and general economic recovery.
They expect sales in China to gradually improve next year, as Seoul and Beijing have recently reached an understanding to swiftly bring bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all areas back onto a "normal track," following months of tensions over the THAAD issue.
GM Korea, the Korean unit of General Motors, suffered a 20 percent on-year decline in November, with sales standing at 42,543 units due to lack of new models and less interest in its models among local customers.
SsangYong Motor, the Korean unit of Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra, sold 12,082 cars last month, down 12 percent from a year ago. The SUV-focused carmaker began to ship its flagship G4 Rexton SUV to Europe and other markets in September to boost sales.
However, Renault Samsung, the local unit of Renault SA, was the only carmaker that posted a gain in November sales. It sold 25,759 units last month, a 0.8 percent on-year gain. Strong overseas demand for the SM6 midsize sedan and QM6 SUV boosted sales.
From January to November, the five companies sold a combined 7.45 million autos, down 6.6 percent from 7.98 million units the previous year, the data showed.