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Wed, May 14, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Hyundai shelves plan to make pickup trucks in US

AP AND AFP , SEOUL AND TOKYO

Hyundai Motor Co has shelved a plan to make pickup trucks in the US as demand declines amid high oil prices, a company official said yesterday.

The largest South Korean automaker had considered producing pickups at a plant of its subsidiary Kia Motors Corp that is now under construction in the state of Georgia, near a Hyundai plant in Alabama. The Kia factory is expected to be completed in 2010.

“We had studied it as a long-term project. But it appears to be too early to get into the market now because oil prices are rising sharply and trucks don’t sell well in the United States,” Hyundai spokesman Jake Jang said, adding that the company would consider the plan again if the market situation improved.

Hyundai Motor, the world’s sixth-largest automaker, currently does not make pickups.

Record-high oil prices have sapped US consumers’ interest in sport utility vehicles and trucks.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler saw their sales decline last month because of lower demand for large cars.

Pickup sales in the US have also been falling for months because of the slowdown in housing construction.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nissan Motor Co said yesterday it expected net profit to tumble 29.5 percent this year amid a weak US car market, a stronger yen and high material costs.

The cautious outlook came as Nissan reported a 4.7 percent rise in net earnings in the last fiscal year through March to ¥482.26 billion (US$4.7 billion) and a 1.8 percent gain in operating profit to ¥790.83 billion.

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn hailed the results as a strong performance in what he said was “a challenging and volatile environment.”

For the current fiscal year, Nissan predicted a smaller net profit of ¥340 billion and an operating profit of ¥550 billion.

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