South Korean Vehicle Sales Hit Record


SEOUL, South Korea - Worldwide vehicle sales at South Korea's five automakers surpassed 5 million for the first time last year, company figures released Monday showed.


Combined sales at Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., Ssangyong Motor Co. and Renault Samsung Motors Corp. rose 15.6 percent to a record-high of 5.22 million vehicles, compared with 4.52 million in 2004.


The total includes sales of vehicles manufactured at overseas plants.


Exports rose 19.1 percent to 4.09 million vehicles while local sales grew 4.3 percent to 1.13 million _ the first on-year gain in three years, the figures showed.


South Korean carmakers have suffered from a slowdown in domestic sales since late 2002 when consumers cut back spending to write down record credit card debt. Analysts expect solid sales this year as well.


Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, sold a record 2.53 million vehicles last year, up 11 percent from 2004. Kia, a Hyundai affiliate, sold 1.27 million vehicles, up 13.9 percent.


GM Daewoo, the South Korean unit of General Motors Corp., sold 1.16 million vehicles, 28.6 percent more than in 2004.

Ssangyong Motor's sales rose 4.2 percent to 141,306, while Renault Samsung Motors, the South Korean unit of France's Renault, sold 119,035 vehicles for an increase of 39.9 percent.

- Source from The Associated Press (Jan 02, 2006) -