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June 2, 2003

SOUTH KOREA: Weak home market drags car sales down in May despite strong exports

Year on year export boosts of up to 25% failed to counter a depressed May new car market at home for South Korea's four major vehicle makers, according to news agency reports.

By bcusack

Year on year export boosts of up to 25% failed to counter a depressed May new car market at home for South Korea’s four major vehicle makers, according to news agency reports.

Ssangyong Motor said that its vehicle sales in May fell 18% on year to 12,694 units due to a weak home market performance, Dow Jones reported.

Citing a Ssangyong statement to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), the news agency said the company’s home market sales plunged 22% on year to 11,328 units in May, while exports climbed 25% to 1,366 units.

Ssangyong’s May sales were 0.7% lower from April, with local sales down 1.4% month on month, Dow Jones reported, adding that exports rose 5.3% month on month in May.

Dow Jones reported that Kia Motors recorded a 4.4% year on year drop in car sales to 90,301 units in May, again due to poor home market performance.

Sales in South Korea fell 31% year on year to 31,046 units in May, while exports jumped 19% year on year to 59,255 units, Dow Jones said, citing Kia’s statement to the FSS.

The company’s May sales were 9.4% lower from a month ago, the news agency said, adding that home market sales fell 6.1% month on month in May while exports slid 11% month on month.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported a better result for GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co which, on Monday, said sales in May fell 2.6% year on year to 39,501 units.

According to Reuters, GM Daewoo said exports last month rose 12% year on year to 27,794 units, but home market sales plunged 25.6% to 11,707 units.

The best result for May was achieved by Kia parent company Hyundai Motor, South Korea’s biggest car maker.

According to Dow Jones, the company said on Monday that its car sales in May fell 0.8% year on year to 168,594 units, because a rise in exports was not enough to offset a fall in home market sales.

Sales in South Korea plunged 27% year on year to 54,861 units in May, hurt by weak domestic consumer sentiment, the Dow Jones report said.

But the news agency, citing Hyundai’s statement to the FSS, added that exports climbed 21% year on year to 113,733 units.

Hyundai Motor’s May sales were 11% lower from April, with local sales down 9% month on month and exports down 12%, Dow Jones said.

According to the news agency, Hyundai Motor’s domestic sales of passenger cars reached 26,318 units in May, down 25% year on year and 13% month on month.

Dow Jones also noted that Hyundai exports remained strong in May as sales from its overseas manufacturing units in India, Turkey and China more than doubled to 19,097 units last month from 9,179 units a year ago.

Sales from the three overseas units in May were 13% higher month on month, according to Dow Jones.

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