Hyundai Motor July sales rose more than 20% from a year earlier aided by strong demand for SUVs and new models, but affiliate Kia Motors suffered from strike action during the month, a Reuters report said (/news_detail.asp?art=38548 , /news_detail.asp?art=38513)

Analysts said the implementation of a shorter workweek for South Koreans had created more demand for SUVs and the end of the World Cup finals brought more South Koreans into showrooms, Reuters reported.

"June was definitely an off month in terms of auto sales due to the World Cup," said KGI Securities auto analyst Don Shim told Reuters.

"There is a continued demand for SUVs (sport utility vehicles), especially with the five-day work week taking full force," Shim added, according to Reuters.

Reuters said that financial industry workers in South Korea won a five-day working week in May. Various government ministries are also experimenting with the shortened week, the report added.

Reuters said the latest sales figures showed a sharp rebound for Hyundai whose June sales dropped 36% compared with June 2001.

Hyundai's July sales rose 23.6% over July 2001 to 155,630 vehicles, while exports increased 40.7% to 61,319 vehicles, Reuters said, citing a statement from the company.

According to Reuters, the statement also said that July sales of Galloper [based on a previous-generation Mitsibishi Pajero/Shogun], Santa Fe and Terracan SUVs rose 13.3% year on year to 15,901 units, while the Santa Fe compact SUV, Sonata mid-sized saloon and Click (a compact hatchback just launched in Europe as as the Getz) led exports.

Reuters said that Kia, South Korea's second largest car maker, saw its July sales drop 23.1% from a year earlier to 56,010 vehicles and cited a Kia spokeswoman as saying that the partial strikes during July had the largest impact on overall sales.

According to Reuters, Kia July exports fell 28.4% to 28,346 vehicles.

Daewoo Motor Company July sales fell 14.2% to 36,219 vehicles, Reuters said, adding that exports fell 31.6% to 19,429 vehicles.

"Our monthly sales are picking up due to improved consumer perceptions since the General Motors agreement," Daewoo Motor spokesman Hwang Nam-chul told Reuters.

Tiny SUV maker Ssangyong Motor said its July sales rose 25.1% to 10,257 vehicles on demand for SUVs, Reuters said.

The company has recently launched a new mid-sized SUV model in European markets, including the UK, where sales will begin by the end of the year.

Reuters said that South Korea's smallest vehicle maker, unlisted Renault Samsung Motors 70% owned by Renault of France, posted July sales up 30% year on year to 9,223 vehicles.

Samsung, the last of the Korean comglomerates to enter the vehicle market, began making a medium-sized saloon model line based on a previous-generation Nissan Maxima in the early 1990s.

The range was subsequently expanded with a smaller, also Nissan-based line.

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