Korean automakers post December sales drops

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Korean automakers post December sales drops

All five Korean automakers saw their sales drop by double digits last month due to lower global demand, particularly from China, which is still protesting the deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Korea.

Local sales were also affected by a labor dispute.

Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, said Tuesday that its December sales fell 16.6 percent from a year earlier due to weaker overseas demand. The company sold 406,671 vehicles in December.

“Strikes at the main domestic plants and sharp sales declines in China amid bilateral political tensions resulted in the poor monthly figures,” the company said in a statement.

Domestic sales fell 26.1 percent to 53,361 cars last month. Overseas sales dropped 15 percent to 353,310. For all of 2017, Hyundai Motor saw its sales decline 6.5 percent to 4.5 million.

The company and its union have yet to settle on a wage deal for the year, even though it needs to launch new and customized models, including sport utility vehicles, to revive sales in major markets this year.

Kia Motors said its sales fell 17.2 percent in December from a year earlier on weaker overseas demand. The country’s second-largest automaker sold 226,842 cars last month.

Domestic sales fell 6.2 percent to 46,502, and overseas sales declined 19.6 percent to 180,340. For the whole of 2017, Kia’s sales declined 7.8 percent to 2.75 million.

Renault Samsung Motors said its December sales fell 19 percent from a year earlier on weak domestic performance. The carmaker sold 26,515 vehicles last month.

Domestic sales plunged 29 percent to 9,953. Exports declined 11 percent to 16,562. For all of 2017, the company sold 276,808 cars, up 7.6 percent.

GM Korea’s December sales fell 16 percent from a year earlier to 45,466 vehicles, mainly due to a lack of new models.

Exports declined 6.5 percent to 33,614, and domestic sales plunged 35 percent to 11,852. In 2017, GM Korea saw its combined sales slump 12 percent to 524,547.

SsangYong Motor’s sales fell 15 percent to 14,208 vehicles in December. A whopping 41 percent year-on-year decline in exports weighed down the monthly sales tally.

Domestic sales dipped 0.5 percent to 10,647 last month. Exports plunged to 3,561.

In 2017, the maker of the Rexton and Tivoli SUVs sold a combined 143,685 vehicles, down 7.7 percent. YONHAP

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