Hyundai, Kia are sub-compact kings of the U.S. market

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Hyundai, Kia are sub-compact kings of the U.S. market

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Hyundai Motor’s Accent, left, and Kia Motors’ Pride. [JoongAng Ilbo]

The nation’s two auto giants, Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, have reclaimed their joint spot as leading sub-compact car sellers in the United States for the first time in four months, beating out rival Nissan.

According to a report provided by U.S. car research company AutoData, the two Korean companies sold a total of 11,010 sub-compact cars in April: 8,208 units of Hyundai Accent and 2,802 Kia Rios (kwon as Prides in Korea). The sales by the two companies in the United States increased by 14.3 percent from a year earlier and increased by 10.4 percent from March. Nissan followed with sales of 9,646 units of the Versa.

It was the first time Korea clinched the sub-compact crown in the U.S. market since December.

With the popularity of the Accent and Rio, the combined market share for the two companies in April was 25 percent, meaning that one out of every four consumers purchasing sub-compact cars bought either a Hyundai or Kia. The combined market share for the two consistently increased in the past four months from 19 in January, to 21 in February and 23 percent in March.

Hyundai Motor was happy to see its 2015 Accent riding high. The hatchback model has been appealing to consumers in the United States with 137 horsepower, fuel efficiency of 38 miles per gallon (highway standard), six air bags and safety systems including Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control System (TCS). Industry insiders also say the companies’ aggressive marketing strategies, which include a 10-year or 100,000 mile warranty, have been successful.

“This is a meaningful outcome for us as we are facing tough challenges in the market from Japanese companies, who have been benefited from the weak yen,” said a spokesman of Hyundai. “We will continue trying to expand market share by introducing more models.”

The company also aims to boost sales of SUVs to boost profits. The company reported 1.588 trillion won ($1.46 billion) of operating profit for the first quarter earlier in the month, which was a decrease of 18.1 percent from a year ago.

The company said it was a bit late reacting to the increasing popularity of SUVs in the global market including the United States.

As a solution, the company will start selling its new Tucson in North America this month and in Europe in July. The U.S. market is expected to grow for next few years as demand in the country is expected to hit 16.8 million units this year, 17.2 million units next year and 17.5 million units in 2017.


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