Hyundai Motor has released details of its full year performance noting that, boosted by exchange rate gains and a more favourable product mix, it had reported a rise in 2008 sales. However, profitability fell as marketing and brand costs ate into margins.

Hyundai said 2008 sales revenues rose 5.1% to 32.19 trillion won helped by a richer product mix and the sharp depreciation of the Korean won against major currencies. 

Profitability, however, came under increasing pressure and declined by 13.9% to 1.448 trillion won from a year earlier. Operating profit dropped by 3.5% to 1.877 trillion won due to higher marketing, dealer and brand development expenses.

“The rate of decline was abated by widely implemented cost-cutting efforts and continuous efforts to diversify the settlement currency. By prudently diversifying its global sales footprint, the company isn’t overly affected by the economic volatility of any one region,” a statement said.
In the Korean domestic market, strong demand for the Genesis luxury sedan, Sonata and i30 was hampered by interruptions in production due to labour disputes, leading to an 8.7% drop in sales to 570,116 units.

However, export sales from the three Korean plants rose 2.1% to 1,098,629 units, helped by strong demand for smaller, more economical cars such as the i30.

By region, Hyundai saw a sharp decline in SUV sales in the EU as a direct consequence of spiralling fuel costs. However, the newly introduced i10 (built in India) and i30 (now being made at a new plant in the Czech Republic) were well received, the company said. It added that it expected sales momentum to continue to build with the launch of the i20 (also from India) in the new year.

In China, Hyundai registered 27.1% growth in sales thanks to the Yuedong, a compact based on the Elantra.

In eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and other developing markets, Hyundai registered 19.5% growth. In India, the company saw sales climb 49.6%.