Hyundai Motor Co., Korea’s largest automaker, said Tuesday its sales in South American nations have surged nearly 29 percent this year, already surpassing the figure for all of 2009.
In the first 10 months of this year, the company sold 186,206 vehicles in the region, up 28.7 percent from the same period last year. The company sold 180,355 units in the entire year of 2009.
Sales in Argentina nearly doubled as they rose 91.9 percent from a year earlier while shipments in the Dominican Republic jumped 78.1 percent on-year and those in Puerto Rico 76 percent, according to company officials.
Hyundai’s market shares in six different countries, including Ecuador, Chile and Panama, have also exceeded 10 percent.
“Recording an over 10 percent market share in so many countries of South America where the company does not have a production facility means it is doing extremely well,” a company official said.
In Panama, Hyundai sold 6,181 vehicles in the January-October period, trailing Toyota with 7,052 units for the spot of the top-selling foreign brand there this year.
“If Hyundai does become the top-selling brand in Panama this year, it would have a significant meaning as it will be the first time for Hyundai to become the top seller in any South American nation,” the company official said.
Currently, South America accounts for only 6.2 percent of Hyundai’s global sales, but the company is planning to build a plant in Brazil, as early as from next month, as it believes the region will soon become one of the largest markets in the world.
Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. have surpassed Toyota Motor Corp. as the largest Asian carmaker in Europe this year after the Japanese company’s sales tumbled on recalls, according to data released by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association
The two firms boosted Europe sales 4 percent in the first 10 months to 521,369 vehicles, . Toyota sales, including its Lexus premium brand, plunged 17 percent to 511,754.
The Seoul-based group has withstood slumping European auto demand this year. The carmaker has also won market share in the U.S. from Toyota after the Toyota City- based company recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for repairs related to unintended accelerations.
“Hyundai and Kia have clearly benefitted from Toyota’s massive recalls,” said Ahn Sang-joon, an auto analyst at Tong Yang Securities Inc. in Seoul. “They have also expanded their model lineups in European markets giving more choices to consumers.”
Overall auto sales in Europe have fallen 5 percent this year to 11.6 million, according to the automakers group. Nissan Motor Co. has posted the biggest increase among major brands, with sales climbing 13 percent.
The Korean automakers’ European sales may climb even more next year as they are preparing to introduce new models specifically designed for the region, said Kim Byung Kuk, a Seoul-based analyst at Daishin Securities Co.
Hyundai fell 4 percent to close at 180,500 won in Seoul trading today, while Kia dropped 2.3 percent to 50,600 won. Hyundai owns 34 percent of Kia. Toyota gained 1.1 percent to 3,300 yen in Tokyo.
(From news reports)