Most automakers saw steady sales last year

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Most automakers saw steady sales last year

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Most Korean automakers saw their sales improve in 2014 despite the slumping domestic economy and weak Japanese yen, according to performance records posted by the companies on Friday.

The nation’s two largest carmakers, Hyundai Motor and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors, said their sales had increased by 4.9 and 7.6 percent, respectively, compared to 2013. Renault Samsung, which reveled in the popularity of its compact utility vehicle QM3 and the new SM7 Nova sedan, marked a 29.6 percent rise in sales over the last year, the highest increase of all Korean carmakers. GM Korea, on the other hand, saw its sales fall by 19.2 percent year-on-year.

According to 2014 sales performance data posted by Hyundai and Kia, the two sold a total of 8,005,152 units - 4.96 million for Hyundai and 3.04 million units for Kia. However, the two automakers estimated that their sales this year will increase by only about 2.5 percent due to slow economic growth worldwide and especially in China, the companies’ biggest market. Their 2015 goal is to sell a combined 8.2 million cars.

Hyundai said it sold 685,191 cars in Korea last year and 4.27 million globally, up 4.9 percent year-on-year.

In Korea, the new midsize sedan LF Sonata was its best-selling model, with 108,041 units sold, making it the most popular car in the country last year.

The company sold 378,177 sedans in 2014, a 9.6 percent year-on-year increase, while sales of recreational vehicles including SUVs like the Tucson ix dropped by 1.3 percent to 132,801.

“It will be a tough year this year because the economy of newly industrialized nations will grow much slower than it has been in the past few years,” Hyundai said in a statement. “We will try to develop a [sales] system that can respond to any unexpected difficulties.”

Last year was certainly better for Kia than for Hyundai. Kia said it sold 3.04 million units, the first time it has surpassed three million units in a year, thanks to the new Carnival van, Sorento SUV and its best-seller, the small-size sedan K3.

Kia’s recreational vehicles such as the Sportage R, Morning and Sorento led its domestic sales, as SUV sales rose by 16.6 percent year-on-year to 146,542. Kia’s sedan sales have decreased by 6.2 percent from a year ago to 262,820.

Although the K3 was the automaker’s best-seller, Kia’s Carnival van, introduced in June, was a surprise hit, selling 32,397 units, which was even more than the total 2013 sales for the pervious Carnival model.

GM Korea, the nation’s third-largest automaker, said its 154,381 units sold domestically was its best performance since it was established in 2002. But its overall sales, including exports, was down 19.2 percent from a year ago, from 780,518 to 630,532 units.

But Renault Samsung (RSM) will be looking to have a repeat of 2014 this year. The company sold 169,854 units last year, up 29.6 percent from a year ago, thanks to the small SUV QM3, of which the company sold 18,191 units, twice its sales target.

“The QM3 perfectly met consumers’ demands for high fuel efficiency and performance,” said Park Dong-hoon, an RSM spokesman.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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