Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors were expected to upgrade their global sales outlook for the second quarter and for the whole of 2018 after sales in China began to recover from last year's sharp declines.

South Korea's two leading automakers earlier this year had previously been expected to lift global sales to 7.55m units combined in 2018 from 7.25m units in 2017, according to local industry sources. But this forecast now is expected to be revised upwards.

While sales in the US have remained negative so far this year, the imminent launch of new SUV models including the new Hyundai Santa Fe in this market is expected to help volumes rebound from last year's sharp declines.

The main driver of growth this year is expected to be China, however, as sales rebound from sharp declines last year due to the government's anger over South Korea's deployment of the US THAAD missile defence system.

Hyundai sales in China declined by over 30% to 786,000 units last year while Kia's sales plunged by more than 44% to just over 361,000 units. Both brands have reported strong sales growth in this market since March, albeit from weak year-earlier levels.

The two brands have been criticised for being slow to respond to growing global demand for SUVs but this is being addressed this year with new compact models such as the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic and Niro, and major revisions to the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento medium SUVs.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more