Sales of Hyundai and affiliate Kia in South Korea have been declining but so far, the impact has been mitigated due to the high demand overseas. Hyundai’s domestic sales dropped 9% to 56,022 units but its worldwide sales still increased by 17% to 382,659 units. The demand overseas increased by 24% to 326,637.
Kia’s global sales had a 7% climb to 240,457 vehicles even as domestic sales had a 9% decrease. Eric Choi, an analyst at Shinhan Investment, said that the U.S. market is doing much better than expected while the European market has been sluggish. But Hyundai and Kia continue to grow in Europe and its sales are expected to go higher in the second quarter.
Hyundai anticipates that it will achieve record sales in the U.S. in March to exceed 65,000, signifying a 5% increase from last year. It’s also likely that March 2012 will be its best quarter in the U.S. for the past four years. Analysts believe that Hyundai and Kia may slow down in the U.S. with the returning strength of the Japanese automakers with its new models.
Nevertheless, sales are expected to stay steady in Europe with the March launch of Hyundai's new i30 compact in March and the arrival of Kia's new Cee'd in the second quarter. Hyundai and Kia are targeting a sales revival in their home market by launching new models even as U.S.-built cars are more price-competitive after a free trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea, which took effect on March 15. Notably, it was last year that the free trade pact between South Korea and the European Union went into effect. [source: Autonews]