Hyundai, Kia post big numbers in U.S. market

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Hyundai, Kia post big numbers in U.S. market

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Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors had record sales in the United States last year after selling more than 1.26 million units combined in the world’s second-largest automotive market.

According to data from each company, Hyundai sold 703,007 units in 2012, up 8.9 percent from 2011, while Kia managed to sell 557,599 units last year, a 14.9 percent on-year increase.

The combined sales from affiliates of Hyundai Motor Group of 1.26 million units are an 11.4 percent on-year increase from 2011 when it sold 1.13 million units.

For December sales, Korea’s top two automakers posted mixed results. Hyundai sold 59,435 vehicles, which is a record for its December sales, but its smaller affiliate Kia dropped 9.7 percent to 39,178 units.

Hyundai and Kia were in the center of a controversy in November when the U.S. Environment Protection Agency caught them misstating fuel-economy numbers on nearly a million cars sold in the U.S. Experts said the incident has damaged the brand value of the companies, but apparently sales weren’t hit as hard as expected, as the popular models maintained strong sales.

For Hyundai, the Alabama-built Sonata and Elantra (known as Avante in Korea), two of the top-10 retail-selling cars in 2012, renewed their records with sales of 230,605 units, up 2 percent, and 202,034 units, up 8 percent, respectively. “The holiday selling season, in conjunction with improved consumer confidence, made for a successful December,” Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of sales at Hyundai Motor America said in a release.

“Our momentum over the last several months, paired with improved inventory levels and the launch of seven new or refreshed products in 2012, positions us for continued growth in the new year.” For Kia, its sales were led throughout 2012 by the Optima (known as the K5 in Korea). The midsize sedan became the first Kia nameplate to top 150,000 annual sales. “The brand’s maturation process will continue this year with seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles scheduled to arrive in our showrooms over the next 12 months,” said Ahn Byung-mo, the CEO of Kia Motors America.

However, despite posting record sales, the combined market share of Hyundai and Kia in 2012 lost 0.2 percentage point to stay at 8.7 percent as other automakers also excelled in the recovering U.S. auto market. This was the first time in 11 years that combined market share of Hyundai and Kia registered negative growth.

Hyundai-Kia’s market share of 8.7 percent is sixth among automotive groups operating in the U.S. General Motors topped the market with 17.9 percent, followed by Ford (15.5), Toyota (14.4), Chrysler (11.4) and Honda (9.8). Auto sales in the U.S. jumped 13.4 percent to 14.5 million units in 2012, the highest volume in the last five years. It was also the biggest yearly gain since 1984.

In addition, Americans who hung on to aging cars during the recession and were hit by superstorm Sandy started to trade their cars. The average age of a car topped 11 years in the U.S. last year.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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