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Exports shore up local carmakers’ February sales

Improving overseas shipments boosted five South Korean carmakers’ sales in February, industry data showed Wednesday.

Compared to February 2010, Hyundai Motor Co.’s sales increased by 12.1 percent to come in at just 281,000 units.

Hyundai’s overseas sales recorded a year-on-year rise of 14.8 percent, while domestic sales increased by less than 500 units or 0.9 percent.

The country’s second largest carmaker Kia Motors Corp. saw the second highest rate of export increase at 31 percent, bringing the figure to about 138,000 units.

Kia’s domestic sales grew at a slower rate of 17.5 percent lowering the overall year-on-year growth rate to 27.8 percent.

Hyundai and Kia’s expansion in overseas markets was particularly visible in the U.S.

According to the companies, Hyundai Motor America sold 43,533 vehicles in February, up 28 percent from a year earlier, while Kia saw an increase of 36.4 percent.

Hyundai Motor America’s rise was led by the Elantra, known as Avante in Korea, and the Sonata. Elantra sales increased by about 4,300 units, while sales of the Sonata almost doubled from 7,966 to 15,723 units.

Hyundai also faired well in the U.S. luxury markets.

The Genesis continued the run of year-on-year sales increases for the 20th consecutive month, 233 units of the Equus were sold in the market.

Among the country’s five carmakers, Ssangyong Motor Co.’s exports increased at the highest rate of 62.4 percent, pushing up the SUV specialists overseas sales to 4,332 units.

Including domestic sales, which increased 20.6 percent over the same period, Ssangyong’s February sales has risen by 44.4 percent compared to the same month last year.

In contrast to Ssangyong and Hyundai Motor Group’s two carmakers that saw both domestic and overseas sales rise, February brought mixed bag of results for GM Korea Co. and Renault Samsung Motors Co.

While GM Korea’s domestic sales declined 6.3 percent, an increase of 21.1 percent in exports pushed up the carmaker’s overall February sales by 16.4 percent from a year earlier.

Renault Samsung, however, saw its overall sales decline by 11.7 percent despite exports rising by nearly 3,000 units from a year ago, held back by a massive 5,000-unit cut in domestic sales.

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