South Korea’s automobile sales in September jumped 15 percent on year, helped by overseas demand for vehicles made by Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., which together form the world’s No. 5 car maker by sales.
South Korea’s five car makers-Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea, Ssangyong Motor and Renault Samsung Motors-sold a total of 671,645 vehicles, up from 582,758 units a year earlier, according to data released by the companies Tuesday.
Hyundai and Kia saw overseas sales soar by 17 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
Demand for Hyundai’s Sonata and Kia’s Optima has been particularly strong abroad, according to Lee Sang-hyun, an analyst at NH Securities, with both companies seeing demand exceeding production of the latest versions of the two mid-size sedans.
The rosy picture for South Korea’s car makers is likely to continue into the fourth quarter, analysts say, with the launch of new models such as Kia’s Rio subcompact and Hyundai’s i30 hatchback likely to help offset the economic uncertainties stemming from the euro-zone crisis.
“There seems to be little prospect of the euro-zone debt woes having an effect on Korean carmakers’ overall sales for at least the rest of this year,” Lee said. “That’s because inventory levels of Hyundai and Kia are still low but their production lines are at full capacity.”
Overall domestic sales climbed 3.7 percent on year to 124,174 units in September, while exports soared 18 percent to 547,471 units for the five car makers.
Kia’s domestic sales rose 4.4 percent but Hyundai’s slid 1.1 percent.
GM Korea ranked third last month by selling a combined 65,541 units, followed by Renault Samsung’s 23,938 units and Ssangyong Motor’s 9,504 units. -By Kyong-Ae Choi