SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s vehicle sales fell 22 percent in the January-June period from a year earlier, as the new coronavirus outbreak continued to affect the automobile industry, industry data showed Wednesday.
The five carmakers in South Korea — Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. — sold a combined 3,033,798 vehicles in the first half, down from 3,866,229 units a year ago, according to data from the companies.
Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, the country’s two biggest carmakers, suspended operations of their major overseas plants until late May, and parent firms of the three other carmakers reduced production to control inventories amid the COVID-19 pandemic.’
Production at Hyundai and Kia’s overseas plants falls short of the levels before the coronavirus outbreak hit the industry early this year.
Hyundai has seven domestic and 10 overseas plants, whose combined annual capacity reaches 5.5 million vehicles. Kia has eight domestic and seven overseas plants whose capacity reaches 3.84 million units.
In the first six months, Hyundai’s overall sales declined 25 percent to 1,589,429 units from 2,126,307, while Kia’s dropped 14 percent to 1,161,246 from 1,352,629 during the same period.
The company said it will step up efforts to minimize the negative impact of the coronavirus on vehicle sales in global markets while focusing on securing stable sales networks despite the virus.
Hyundai and Kia are widely expected to miss their combined sales target of 7.54 million cars for this year. They sold a total of 7.2 million units in 2019.
The two carmakers had planned to focus on boosting sales in the U.S. market this year to offset sluggish demand in China, the world’s biggest automobile market.
They originally planned to launch Hyundai’s Tucson sport utility vehicle, Hyundai’s independent Genesis brand’s GV80 SUV and G80 sedan and Kia’s Sportage SUV in the U.S. later this year, but they are still awaiting shipment to the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.