Global car sales by South Korean companies rise

Seoul, June 3 (IANS) Global auto sales by South Korean carmakers increased last month as strong overseas demand offset negative effects from the devaluation of the Japanese yen, industry data showed Monday.

The country’s five automakers, including Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Samsung and Ssangyong, sold a total of 746,444 vehicles in May, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier. The car sales rose 0.5 percent from the prior month.

The result came despite the continued weak yen trend that would make locally-made cars expensive compared with Japanese ones that are competing with local brands in overseas markets. For the first five months of this year, the South Korean currency appreciated 9 percent against the Japanese yen, reported Xinhua.

Auto sales in the domestic market remained sluggish. Local car sales by the five carmakers decreased 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 119,124 units in May.

Domestic sales by the top automaker Hyundai fell 0.2 percent due to production disruption stemming from the suspension of weekend overtime work, with those for Kia Motors and GM Korea falling 3.1 percent and 9.2 percent respectively.

Solid overseas demand for South Korean brands relieved the sluggishness in the domestic market. Overseas sales, including exports of cars manufactured in local factories and sales of cars assembled in overseas plants, expanded 9.3 percent from a year earlier to 627,320 units in May.

Hyundai exported 95,726 cars last month, while selling 248,738 cars assembled in overseas plants. The combined figure was up 12.4 percent from a year before.

Overseas auto sales by Kia increased 7.7 percent on-year in May, and exports by GM Korea and Ssangyong Motor grew 3.6 percent and 17.8 percent each.

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