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Hyundai – Kia Sales to Hit Record 8 Million

But profits under pressure.

by on Nov.25, 2014

A fuel-cell version of the popular Hyundai Tucson went on sale in the U.S. market last summer.

Hyundai Motor Co. and its sibling Kia Motors Corp. are collectively heading for an all-time sales record of 8 million this year.

On the downside, Hyundai is facing serious pressure on earnings as the Korean won gains strength. That creates a disadvantage when compared to Japanese rivals who have watched earnings soar on the weak yen.

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“The market still does not look rosy,” Chung Mong Koo, who serves as chairman of both Hyundai and Kia, said in the statement. “Let’s overcome the unfavorable market situation and show our automobile industry’s competence.”

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New Car Sales Soar in May

Ford defies expert predictions with small sales increase.

by on Jun.03, 2014

Jeep Wranger saw its best May sales ever last month. The Jeep brand overall was up 58% during the period.

Buoyed by fantastic weather and a fifth weekend for dealers to move metal, new vehicle sales during demonstrated renewed strength in May.

Those factors helped Jeep post its best monthly sales in history and led General Motors to predict it would gain marketshare this year.

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General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai and Audi all reported increased sales during May. (more…)

U.S. Auto Sales Jump Double Digits for October Despite Shutdown

Sales soft early in month, but saw rebound in second half.

by on Nov.01, 2013

Ford Fusion sales jumped 71% in of October while the automaker saw an overall increase of 13.9%.

Despite early concerns in the wake of the U.S. government shutdown, U.S. auto sales returned to form in October with most automakers reporting sales increases despite the 16-day stalemate in Washington early in the month.

With a few makers yet to report in, sales are expected rise between 11.7% and 13%, according to a variety of estimates. Most of the makers reported that sales were slow early in October, but began hopping after the issue was settled — at least temporarily.

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The Detroit Three was led by General Motors Co. and its 16% increase over last October. The maker delivered 226,402 vehicles with Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick-GMC performing well, according to Kurt McNeil, vice president, U.S. sales operations, in a statement. (more…)

Labor Problems Mount for Kia and Hyundai

Workers ramp up protest strikes.

by on Aug.26, 2013

Hyundai workers strike this month. Photo credit: NewsChannel Asia.

Labor trouble continues to hobble production at both Kia and Hyundai, according to new reports from South Korea.

Both Kia and its South Korean partner, Hyundai, are seeing their market share reduced this year because of vehicle shortages that have been attributed, at least in part, to sporadic labor disputes at South Korean factories. Executives at both Kia and Hyundai have acknowledged vehicle shortages have reduced inventories and made it more difficult to keep up with the growing global sales.

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Saturday production was halted in March at two of Kia’s three assembly plants  in South Korea and at all plants of its larger affiliate Hyundai , amid union protests over a new shift structure.  The weekend shifts resumed in May at Hyundai and in June at Kia, after some management concessions.

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Hyundai Market Share Likely to Slip

Korean carmaker hitting limits of production capacity.

by on Jul.15, 2013

Hyundai expects to sell around 2,000 of the 2014 Equus luxury sedans in the U.S.

Despite record sales this year, Hyundai expects its market share to shrink in the U.S. because of a continuing – and growing — shortage of vehicle resulting from a lack of production capacity.

“We see more demand for our products than we do production,” Hyundai Motor America Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik said during a visit to the Hyundai-Kia Technical Center to show off the updated version of Hyundai’s luxury car, the Equus. “We can’t get a single incremental unit out of our plants,” he said.

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Nevertheless, Hyundai is still “on track” to increase sales 4.4% this year, to 734,000 vehicles in the U.S., which means from a sales standpoint, “Our year is going well,” Krafcik added.

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Hyundai’s Krafcik Named “Executive of the Year”

"Superb team" shares credit.

by on May.21, 2013

Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik.

John Krafcik, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, has been named “Automotive Executive of The Year” for 2013.

The award for the one-time Ford Motor Co. engineer comes as the Korean carmaker sees a modest – but anticipated — slowdown after several years of record sales growth.

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“With his superb team, John Krafcik has literally reshaped the way Hyundai approaches the market with consumer focus, compelling design, and enduring value,” said Robert Djurovic, executive director of the Automotive Executive of the Year Award program, and director of Automotive Services North America, DNV. “It’s no surprise that accolades for Hyundai products just keep coming,” Djurovic said.

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U.S. Auto Sales Surge in March

Vehicle sales outpacing the rest of the economy.

by on Apr.02, 2013

March car sales hit a five-year high led by compacts and trucks.

March U.S. auto sales surged to their highest level in more than five years – with several makers reporting all-time records for the month.

But the overall increase was smaller than the double-digit gains of recent months, raising concerns about whether the unexpectedly strong pace of the automotive recovery will continue – especially in the light of continuing concerns about the impact of Washington gridlock on the overall economy.

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Analysts noted that sales incentives have been declining in recent months, even as average transaction prices – what motorists actually pay after adding options and subtracting discounts – has continued rising. On the other hand, pent-up demand appears to be just one of the positive factors likely to keep momentum going after the industry’s worst downturn since the Great Recession.

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March Auto Sales Tracking at Best Rate in Nearly Six Years

Incentives flat, transaction prices rise.

by on Apr.02, 2013

U.S. vehicle sales were up in March led by, in part, truck sales.

While a number of key automakers have yet to formally release their sales numbers, preliminary data suggest that March will see the highest level of U.S. car and truck sales in nearly six years.

Preliminary indications suggest that sales will average out to an annualized rate of as much as 15.6 million – well above current industry forecasts for all of 2013 – and the best total since December 2007, just before the U.S. auto market plunged into its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

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The strong March performance appears to reflect a variety of factors, including the availability of a number of new and well-reviewed products, pent-up demand, low interest rates and even tax-refund checks. At the same time, analysts suggest that makers continue reeling buyers into their showrooms despite cutting back on incentives and boosting prices on many models.

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Production Shortage Dragging Down Hyundai’s Market Share

But incentives fall while transaction prices soar.

by on Mar.15, 2013

The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is the latest addition to the maker's line-up.

Hyundai has set sales records in each of the last two months yet could still wind up losing market share this year because of a chronic shortage of vehicles.

The problem is one of global scale and reflects the maker’s cautious approach to boosting production capacity, Hyundai Motor America Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik told TheDetroitBureau.com. But the Korean carmaker is beginning to look for ways to address the situation.

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There is a positive side to the shortage. It has reinforced Hyundai’s effort to transform itself from a “value-based brand to a valuable brand,” according to Krafcik, and in the process, the maker has been able to cut incentives while average transaction prices have jumped to record highs on most of its products.

“We’ve never sold as many cars in January and February as we did in the first two months of this year,” Krafcik noted.

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December Sales on Track to Be Best Since Mid-Decade

Makers show little impact from “fiscal cliff” fears.

by on Jan.03, 2013

The latest Grand Cherokee helps Jeep reach an all-time sales record for 2012.

Despite concerns that the ongoing fiscal cliff crisis might scare off potential buyers, the American auto market continued its rebound in December, with preliminary indications that the month will wrap up with a solid, double-digit increase.

And with the political gridlock broken, at least for now, that is buoying expectations that 2013 will be on track to bring the best sales since well before the start of what was, for the auto industry, the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

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A number of key makers have yet to release results, but of the foreign-owned brands, the most significant upturn so far has been reported by Volkswagen, which scored a 35% gain, making it the best December for the maker since 1973, at the height of demand for the original Beetle.

Japan’s giant wasn’t far behind, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, reporting year end sales of 2,082,504 — up 26.6% over last year. Despite some problems in China resulting from an ongoing dispute with Japan over ownership of a chain of uninhabited islands, Toyota is expected to end 2012 as the world’s best-selling automaker.

Workers at the new VW plant in Tennessee have had trouble meeting the growing demand for the American-made Passat.

Hyundai, meanwhile, managed a solid 17% gain for the month – all the more significant since it suggests the maker has overcome the potential pitfall of having had to sharply revise downward its fuel economy numbers after admitting it fudged federal mileage tests.

Nissan, which has tended to lag among the top-tier Japanese makers, also delivered strong numbers for the month, the company reporting an overall 3% increase – which included a 41% rise at the maker’s Infiniti luxury brand, and a more modest 10% jump for flagship Nissan models.

The holiday season appears to have been particularly good for Detroit’s automakers. With Chrysler in the lead, they collectively enjoyed their best December in five years.

Chrysler Group LLC reported a 10% increase in sales during December against relatively strong sales last year.

“Chrysler Group ended 2012 on a strong note with…our best December sales since 2007,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO — Dodge Brand and Head of U.S. Sales. “Looking back on 2012, we were again one of the fastest growing automakers in the country with total sales up 21%.”

Few makers took as big a hit as the suburban Detroit-based Chrysler which, along with General Motors, barely survived a 2009 bankruptcy.  But since emerging from Chapter 11 under the control of Italy’s Fiat, it has steadily gained ground.

The Jeep brand’s 13% sales increase in the U.S. helped push its global sales to an all-time record in 2012. Seven Chrysler Group models set annual sales records in 2012.

“We also recorded 33 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth and our strongest annual sales in five years. Finally, seven of our vehicles recorded their best ever annual sales in 2012 demonstrating how the quality, design and fuel efficiency of our product line up continues to resonate with consumers,” Bigland boasted.

Cross-town rival Ford Motor Co. also had reason to crow. Though its sales were up just a modest 1.9% year-over-year, it nonetheless said that yielded its strongest December since 2006. The Ford brand, in particular, ended 2012 with 2,168,015 vehicles sold – the only brand to top 2 million U.S. sales.

“Ford finished 2012 strong, with retail sales showing improved strength as more customers returned to dealer showrooms,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “Ford’s fuel-efficient cars and hybrid vehicles showed the most dramatic growth for the year, and we achieved our best year for commercial vehicle sales since 2008.”

Analysts have been watching the industry’s inventory numbers of late to see if unsold vehicles were beginning to pile up on dealer lots, which would indicate the growth of new vehicle sales was beginning to slow.  There were signs of that in November, especially at General Motors, where dealers were saddled with more than a 150-day supply of full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

Mark Reuss, GM’s president for North American operations, acknowledged the maker had “misread” the competition and was forced to increase incentives in the hotly competitive pickup segment last month, but the move appears to have paid off.

General Motors Co.’s dealers delivered the company’s highest December sales in five years, with deliveries up 5% year-over-year to 245,733 vehicles.  December was also GM’s best retail sales month of 2012. Incentive spending was “competitive” with industry-wide levels, the maker contended.

“All four GM brands increased their sales year over year in December and we were strong across the board in cars, crossovers and pickup trucks,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations.

(Sales of Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid hit new record – but fall short of goal. Click Here for that story.)

“We also achieved an important fuel economy milestone,” McNeil noted. “In December, GM became the first U.S. automaker to sell more than 1 million vehicles in a single year that get an EPA-estimated 30 mpg or better on the highway.”

With the rest of the industry expected to deliver similarly solid sales numbers for December, the closely watched Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, or SAAR, is expected to push up to or above 15 million, analysts have forecast.

Meanwhile, a new forecast from R.L. Polk, a Detroit consultancy that closely tracks vehicle registrations, sees overall demand for 2013 reaching the 15.3 million market, with the number likely to grow to 16 million by 2015.

Significantly, that would be well short of the 17.5 million vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 but Polk senior analyst Tom Libby called that an “artificial” high created by give-away incentives that sharply reduced industry profitability and nearly destroyed the Detroit Big Three.  With capacity trimmed sharply during the recession, he says makers are now in a position to post record earnings on lower, but more natural, sales levels.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.