With a strategy that has its dealers and showrooms offering new products in new segments, the South Korean Hyundai-Kia group was able to get past Toyota Motor Corp. in 2010 to get the title of Asian sales leader in Europe for the first time.
In the 27-nation EU-EFTA region, the two South Korean carmakers sold a combined 620,911 passenger vehicles in 2010, up 4.6 percent over 2009, according to the European automakers' association, ACEA.
Toyota-Lexus sales, in sharp contrast, decreased 16.3 percent from a year earlier to 600,314 units. According to ACEA, the loss of just over 117,000 unit sales slashed Toyota's European market share by a half-point, to 4.4 percent.
Hyundai-brand sales grew 4.7 percent over 2009 to 358,284 units, bumping its European share up slightly to 2.6 percent from 2.4 percent. Kia-brand sales increased 4.5 percent to 262,627, bumping its share to 1.9 percent from 1.7 percent.
Underscoring the two Korean brands' rising popularity with European car buyers, their gains in 2010 came in an overall market off 5.5 percent from 2009. Only 12 of the 37 brands tallied by ACEA, including Hyundai and Kia, posted sales increases in 2010.
Toyota used to hold a reputation for reliability and bullet-proof quality but its image was damaged in 2010 by the recall of more than 8 million cars globally and about 2 million in Europe for safety-related fixes. [via autonews - sub. required]