Executives predict grim overseas car sales in 2016

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Executives predict grim overseas car sales in 2016

Top executives of overseas operations for Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors on Monday came up with a grim global vehicle sales outlook for 2016.

At a meeting to discuss strategies for production and sales for next year, held at the Hyundai Motor Group headquarters in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul, they agreed that the demand from the United States and Europe will shrink next year in the wake of the imminent U.S. interest rate increase.

The consensus was that the U.S. market, which posted 5.7 percent sales growth this year at 17.47 million cars, will end up expanding by a mere 1.6 percent next year. Europe, which saw 6.5 percent annual growth this year, is expected to post 3.1 percent next year, less than half. Sales prospects for emerging markets such as Russia and Brazil are also bleak.

For Hyundai and Kia, this year wasn’t too good. They sold a combined 7.19 million cars in the first 11 months of this year, down 0.8 percent from the same period a year earlier. The two carmakers set sales target at 8.2 million this year, but the chance of meeting the goal appears slim.

“Next year’s sales goal is set to be similar as this year or even more conservative,” a Hyundai spokesman said.

The meetings were presided over separately by Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, and Lee Hyeong-geun, vice chairman of Kia Motors.

Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, father of Chung Eui-sun, hosted the biannual meeting of global operations heads until May, signaling a generational change under way at the top car-making conglomerate.

The two top automakers are set to concentrate on quality growth. Hyundai Motor unveiled a series of new vehicles in September and November - a high-performance brand N with emphasis on motorsport experience and luxury brand Genesis. Earlier this month, the top automaker debuted its EQ900, the first model from the Genesis lineup.

“We will need to reap meaningful achievement with the EQ900 in competition against high-end brands around the world,” Chung said at the meeting.

Hyundai aims to sell 20,000 EQ900s next year internationally, after showcasing the model at the 2016 North American International Auto show from Jan. 11-24 in Detroit.

Both Hyundai and Kia are poised to unveil eco-friendly vehicles next year - the Prius competitor i-Oniq and small hybrid SUV Niro.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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