Small Accent a big export winner

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Small Accent a big export winner

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Hyundai Motor’s Accent

The top-selling export for Korean automakers last year was the Accent small sedan made by Hyundai Motor.

According to a report Wednesday by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA), Korean automakers exported 3.06 million vehicles last year, a 0.84 percent drop from 3.09 million in 2013.

Among Korean car lineups, Hyundai Motor shipped 260,386 Accents and 251,433 Avantes, and Kia Motors exported 233,834 Pride hatchbacks and 214,012 Souls. The third biggest seller for Korean companies was GM Korea’s Trax SUV at 220,777 units.

Kia was the top exporter with 1.23 million cars, followed by Hyundai (1.2 million), GM Korea (476,755), Renault Samsung (89,851) and Ssangyong Motor (70,847).

The United States was the biggest foreign market for Korean automakers (893,580 cars imported), followed by Saudi Arabia (234,505), Canada (142,876), Australia (130,540), Russia (110,418) and China (94,415).

One piece of bad news for domestic automakers was the increasing popularity of imports in Korea, which jumped 39 percent year-on-year to 266,431 in 2014. In 2011, only 117,592 cars were imported, but the figure was 154,407 in 2012 and 191,068 in 2013.

As part of efforts to boost international sales, Korean companies are expanding their production capacity abroad.

Hyundai Motor is building its fourth and fifth plants in China, the world’s second-largest market, and considering an additional plant in the United States.

But industry insiders say domestic automakers need to develop more expensive models to challenge popular imports like Volkswagen’s Tiguan SUV and BMW’s 520d sedan, which were the top-selling foreign cars in Korea last year, according to KAMA.

The most popular Korean models overseas are small and priced in the 20 million won ($18,000) range. By comparison, the Tiguan sells for 40 million to 49 million won and the BMW 520d for 63.9 million won.

In China, sales for Hyundai Motor declined by 12.1 percent in May from a year earlier. Only about 4,000 units of the Elantra HDC were sold there last month. Roughly 12,000 Elantras were sold in China during the same month last year.


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

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