Tue, Jan 03, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Hyundai group targets sales of 8.25m this year

AFP, SEOUL

South Korea’s largest automakers Hyundai Motor Co and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp have forecast sales of 8.25 million vehicles this year amid hopes that new factories would tap emerging markets.

The projected sales mark a slight increase from last year’s target of 8.13 million, Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo said in a New Year’s e-mail message to employees yesterday.

Hyundai, which along with Kia forms the world’s fifth-largest automaking group, has seen profits falling for years amid slowing demand in its key China market and a strong won that hurt its competitiveness overseas.

The group last year missed its annual sales target for the second consecutive year, when major strikes by South Korean workers hit production.

Hyundai and Kia jointly sold a little more than 7 million units from January to November last year.

However, it hopes to turn things around with a new factory to open in Chongqing, China, and the launch of new vehicles.

“We should strengthen production networks among 35 plants in 10 countries, including the Chongqing plant to open this year,” Chung said. “We... will also strengthen product lineup in luxury and environmentally friendly cars and introduce more than 10 new vehicles this year.”

New models — including sports utility vehicles popular in China — would also be produced at newly opened plants in the Chinese city of Changzhou and in Mexico, the group said.

The Chongqing plant — Hyundai’s fifth in China — is aimed at exploiting the fast-growing midwestern region in the country, the world’s largest auto market.

The group has struggled to boost its market share in China, which last year fell to 8.1 percent following growing competition from Japanese rivals and homegrown Chinese brands.

In October last year, Hyundai Motor announced a sharp fall in profits for the third quarter, hit by lengthy industrial action that also took a toll on the national economy.

Tens of thousands of workers at the firm’s plants in South Korea staged full or partial strikes for several weeks from July through October last year demanding higher wages.

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