Hyundai, Kia boost sales in Europe

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Hyundai, Kia boost sales in Europe

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Things are looking up for Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors in Europe.

The nation’s leading automakers set an all-time monthly sales record last month and recovered a combined market share of 6.1 percent, according to the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association.

This was the first time in four months that market share reached the 6 percent level.

Small cars, hatchbacks and SUVs - which the companies have been trying to improve to overcome their recent struggling performance in the market - led the charge.

According to the Hyundai Motor Group on Thursday, it sold a total of 48,215 vehicles last month to break its previous record of 48,001 three years ago.

The figure rose by 11.9 percent from a year ago, when the automaker sold 43,076 units.

March sales for Kia Motors also rose 9.9 percent from last year to 44,478 vehicles in Europe, breaking its record of 40,479 last year.

Hyundai Motor was able to profit from models targeting the European market like the i10 and i20 hatchbacks. The company said it sold 11,363 i10s and 10,297 i20s.

The company sold 10,764 units of the Tucson ix, its best-selling SUV overseas.

Hyundai expects sales will get a boosted from the third-generation Tucson in the second half of the year. About 4 million Tucsons have been sold worldwide since it was introduced in 2004.

The i20 has also boosted the company’s sales. The car was led by Vice President Chung Eui-sun, the son of Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, from development to production and marketing in hopes of overcoming the lagging sales in Europe.

Chung visited the region four times last year, including once in May to check on the plant in Turkey that produces the i20 and i10.

Hyundai doubled annual production capacity at the Turkey plant from 100,000 to 200,000 units in 2013, but sales from January through September last year went down by 0.3 percent.

But after its introduction in October, the company sold 7,885 i20s in the first month.

The i20 success contributed to a total of 36,378 sold that month - a 10 percent increaee from a year earlier and the first time the Hyundai achieved average growth of 6.2 percent in the European market last year.

The company said it aims to take 5 percent of European market by 2017 and the i20 is critical to achieving that goal. The i20 also won the prestigious iF Design Award in the Cars, Vehicles and Motorcycles category in February.

The small Sportage SUV also did well, becoming not only the best-selling car for Kia Motors, but also for Hyundai Motor Group in the Europe in March with 12,596 cars sold.

“We expect sales in the market to increase, as we will continue introducing new models like the new Tucson SUV,” said a Hyundai spokesman.

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

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