Both Hyundai and Kia gained on their rivals in China last month with Hyundai taking the No 3 sales slot for the first time, behind Shanghai-Volkswagen and Shanghai-GM while Kia was the ninth best-selling brand.

Hyundai sold 50,717 vehicles in February, according to company figures. This is up 36.7% from the same period last year but down 30% on January when the company sold 72,000 units. Overall sales in China were down in February but Hyundai increased its market share to 6.7% from 5.8% the previous month.

“Competition in China is becoming fiercer and fiercer as China has become the world’s largest automobile market,” a Hyundai official said.

Kia saw a 4.2% sales increase in February from a year earlier with sales of 25,000 units and the company said that it hopes the launch of its K5 mid-size saloon which spearheads a product offensive in China will help it to increase its market share.