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Hyundai's local car sales hit 10-month low

2010-07-02 14:38

SEOUL: South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co posted a third successive monthly decline in domestic sales to a 10-month low on Thursday, hit by tough competition in the absence of new models, although the pace of decline moderated.

Hyundai, one of the top global performers during the financial crisis and sales slump that followed, said June domestic sales edged down 1.2 percent from May to 48,643 units, the lowest since August last year.

Overall sales, however, rose 4.6 percent to 312,388 vehicles, helped by strong performance in such markets as the United States, India and China.

Hyundai is the sole Korean automaker to post falling local sales for three months in a row in the face of new model launches by affiliate Kia Motors and aggressive marketing of imports by rivals such as Toyota Motor.

Some analysts predicted Hyundai's struggle in the local market would continue until it starts introducing new models from August.

Kia Motors, South Korea's second-largest carmaker, posted record monthly sales of 178,391 vehicles, spurred by solid domestic sales growth for its new K5 sedan and Sportage R SUV models.

Its first-half sales jumped 49 percent from a year ago to a record 990,261 units.

Ssangyong Motor, which is up for sale and has opened its books to bidders including Franco-Japanese alliance Renault-Nissan and India's Mahindra & Mahindra, reported record monthly sales of 7,422 units.

Shares in Hyundai tumbled 5 percent on Thursday, hit by a report that its parent group may bid for a $2.1 billion stake in its former affiliate Hyundai Engineering & Construction, a deal from which analysts see few synergy benefits.

With weak domestic sales remaining a prime source of concern, eyes are now on Hyundai's performance in the jittery US market, which will be released later on Thursday.

US auto sales for June are likely to slip from the pace of recent months, raising doubts about whether the industry's recovery is faltering even before it delivers the second-half upturn automakers expected.

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