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Carmakers’ sales up 2.2%
Car sales by five South Korean automakers moved up 2.2 percent in November from a year earlier, due to a rise in demand for new vehicles at home and abroad, and more aggressive marketing efforts by carmakers, industry data showed Monday.

The combined sales of local car manufacturers reached 782,055 vehicles last month, a gain from 765,345 vehicles sold a year ago.

The total excludes complete knockdown kits shipped abroad for assembly. 

Carmakers said new models released by carmakers such as Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp. and Renault Samsung Motors Co. (RSM), in recent months pushed up numbers overall, and compensated for a drop in sales of older models.

“New models such as the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Sonata along with the steady popularity of RSM’s QM3 mini-crossover contributed to the rise in sales, despite sluggish economic conditions,” an industry insider said. He also said market demand for fuel-efficient cars pushed up sales of diesel-driven cars.

Of the five carmakers, Hyundai Motor, Kia and RSM reported overall sales gains compared with the year before. GM Korea Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co. said they actually lost some ground.

Hyundai, the country’s largest carmaker, sold 430,026 cars during the month, up a solid 4.3 percent on-year, while its smaller corporate cousin, Kia, reported sales gaining 4.1 percent to 267,734 units.

The two are flagship companies of Hyundai Motor Group, the world’s fifth-largest automotive conglomerate.

The carmakers have stepped up their production cadence coming into the new year, which has started to be reflected in sales numbers.

Besides the Sorento and Sonata, Kia released the Carnival minivan and Soul electric vehicle this year, while Hyundai’s premium Genesis sedan has started reaching overseas markets this year.

GM Korea, the South Korean unit of U.S. automaker General Motors Co., which sells cars under the Chevrolet badge, said sales plunged 22.8 percent to 52,218 units last month, with SUV maker Ssangyong Motor Co. reporting 10,000 cars sold in the one-month period. This represents a 28.3 percent drop from 13,955 cars sold in November 2013.

On the other hand, RSM, the local unit of French automaker Renault S.A., said sales surged 56.9 percent overall to 22,077 units, thanks to a spike in sales of the QM3 and exports of the Nissan Rogue crossover SUVs.

On the domestic front, Hyundai, Kia and RSM all posted gains compared with the year before, with others losing territory from weak demand and stiffer competition from rivals. Hyundai sales hit

55,725 vehicles, with its corporate cousin Kia reporting 44,500 units sold. RSM’s sales reached 8,568.

South Korea’s domestic sales reached 126,943 cars, an increase of 6.5 percent from 119,195. 

Among vehicles sold, Kia’s Morning city car, sold as the Picanto in foreign markets, held onto its best-selling title for the second month in a row, with sales numbers hitting 9,347.

Hyundai’s Porter 1-ton light truck came in second, with the carmaker’s Avante and Sonata ranking third and fourth, respectively, with 8,006 and 7,631 vehicles sold. The Grandeur fullsize, another Hyundai car that has a diesel powertrain, made the top five list with 7,449 cars sold. 

GM, the country’s No. 3 carmaker, said November sales for the home market stood at 12,344, down from 14,100 last year.

Of the top 10 selling cars in South Korea, nine were made by either Hyundai or Kia, with the only exception being GM’s Spark mini, which was in 10th place last month.

Ssangyong said its domestic sales fell to 5,806 from 6,540 units a year ago. The carmaker, however, said preparations to launch its all-new Tivoli small crossover are moving forward without a hitch. Once launched, the car, which will come with a 1.6-liter gasoline engine, should help Ssangyong draw in customers. (Yonhap)