Sales decline almost 15% for domestic auto makers

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Sales decline almost 15% for domestic auto makers

Sales for local automakers fell almost 15 percent in March on year as the coronavirus crisis began to bite.

The five domestic automakers reported selling a total of 597,826 vehicles last month, down 14.9 percent from 702,497 units posted in the same month a year earlier. The coronavirus outbreak dealt a major blow to export volumes for Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, SsangYong Motor, GM Korea and Renault Samsung Motors.

Hyundai Motor’s sales dropped 20.9 percent on year, despite the continued success of the Grandeur, the Palisade and the GV80.

Domestic sales grew 3 percent. With production halts at its overseas factories and generally lowered demand for its cars, the automaker’s overseas sales nosedived 26.2 percent on year.

Sales by Kia Motors in March fell 11.2 percent.

The company’s domestic sales increased 15.3 percent on year to 51,008 units supported by the popularity of the K5 sedan and the recently-released Sorento SUV, but with factories closing outside Korea, overseas sales dropped 11.2 percent.

SsangYong Motor recorded the largest drop in monthly sales - a fall of 29 percent - as the automaker has not released any new cars this year. GM Korea’s March sales declined 11.8 percent on year despite a 39.6 percent surge in domestic sales as a result of the popularity of the Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV, which was introduced in February.

Only sales at Renault Samsung Motors rose. They were up 9.5 percent. The company sold 5,581 XM3 small-size SUVs since bringing the car to the market on March 9.

In February, the aggregate sales for the Korean companies dropped 11 percent on year to 505,212 units. In the first month of the year, the five carmakers sold a combined 553,558 vehicles, down 6 percent from January 2019.

In response to difficult market conditions, domestic automakers are introducing discount plans and installment payment options to boost sales.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are offering up to 1.5 million won ($1,200) in discounts for some of their models while providing higher resell rates for those who buy their cars this month. Renault Samsung Motors is offering extended payment options with lowered interest rates for the XM3.

GM Korea is carrying out discount campaigns to lower the tax burden for new car purchases while offering more payment plans.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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