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Foreign Automakers Enjoy Strong April Sales

Honda, Kia, VW buck rising sales trend.

by on May.01, 2015

Carmakers from around the world finished April with strong sales in the United States.

The 2016 Mazda6 helped the Japanese automaker to a 7.5% sales jump last month.

Mazda reported its best sales in 20 years, while Subaru, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Maserati all chalked up double-digit gains. However, it wasn’t sunshine and roses for every automaker as Honda, Kia and Volkswagen, reported sales declines and Volvo remained flat.

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“It is often said at Mazda that this business isn’t a sprint, but a marathon, and our sixth-generation vehicles prove that a steady pace will establish growth and build our brand,” said Ron Stettner, vice president of sales, MNAO. “Sixth-generation vehicle sales combine to be up 14% year-over-year and we continue to focus on the quality of our sales.” Overall, Mazda’s April sales were up 7.5%. (more…)

Korean Carmakers Could See Growth Stall

Chairman forecasts tough year ahead.

by on Jan.02, 2015

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Mong-Koo Chung.

After nearly a decade of rapid sales growth, Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Group could be facing some serious headwinds in the year ahead.

Chung Moon-koo, the chairman of the group that controls both Hyundai and its Seoul-based affiliate, Kia, forecast the group will see its slowest growth in a decade as it deals with increased competition and a weaker global economy.

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During a New Year’s speech to employees, Chung predicted the world’s fifth-largest automaker will generate only 2.5% more sales in 2015. He also warned that the Hyundai Motor Group will need to cut costs, increase productivity and take other steps to cope with competition from Japanese makers like Toyota, Nissan and Honda who are benefiting from a cheap yen.

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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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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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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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Kia Targeting Luxury Market

K9 could reach U.S. by 2017.

by on Jun.08, 2012

The Kia K9 is likely to reach U.S. shores by 2017.

Like its Korean sibling, Kia has been steadily moving up-market and plans to enter the luxury segment with two or more all-new models by 2017.

Among the models now under development are the K9 and K7 Cadenza, according to company sources and additional reports in the Korea Times.

Kia has traditionally focused on more down-market segments than Hyundai, the latter entering the mid-luxury segment in 2007 with the launch of the Genesis in 2007 – and followed up with the premium luxury Equus last year.

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But Kia has been signaling a desire to move up-market for some time.  It showed off the sporty GT concept last year and revealed sketches of an even more luxurious model, codenamed KH, last winter.

The decision surprises few considering the maker’s global styling chief, Peter Schreyer, is not only considered one of the world’s leading designers but previously held the top spot penning products for Audi.

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Kia Expects U.S. Sales to Surge Past 500,000

Pushing for more product.

by on Jan.10, 2012

The midsize Optima sedan has been a transformational product for the Kia brand.

After setting a blistering pace during the past three years, Kia Motors America expects sales to continue climbing well past 500,000 units in 2012 even though it will not be launching any new products for the first time in recent years.

Kia sales increased 36% last year to 485,000 units in the US as its rebuilt product line and its clever and aggressive advertising — featuring dancing hamsters and stars from the National Basketball Association — helped draw new customers into U.S. showrooms. Overall, sales of new light-duty vehicles increased 8% in 2011, so Kia gained market share as well as volume.

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“You have to remember we were capacity constrained last year,” said Michael Sprague, Kia vice president of marketing and public relations.“ Between November of 2008 and November of 2011, Kia sales grew 78% as it rolled out the Kia Soul, Kia Optima and Kia Sorento.

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Hyundai, Kia Expect Slower Growth in 2012

But sales still likely to top 7 million, says top exec.

by on Jan.04, 2012

Despite strong demand for products like the Elantra, Hyundai expects its growth to slow in 2012.

It’s been a whirlwind for Korean carmakers, Hyundai and Kia both posting double-digit global growth in 2011 as they’ve landed one successful new product after another.  But senior company officials warn that the Korean powerhouse likely can’t keep that torrid pace going in 2012.

It’s not that the days of sales growth are over, but Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Moon-koo says the maker has to focus on other things – like quality – rather than growth alone.

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“We will strengthen quality management we have continuously pursued,” the 73-year-old executive declared during a New Year’s speech to Hyundai/Kia employees.

Nonetheless, Hyundai and sibling Kia don’t expect to just tread water in 2012.  Chung expects to record a 6% increase for the company, now the world’s fifth-largest automaker, which would push its global volume to 7 million.

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Can Makers Maintain October’s Sales Momentum?

Best month since August 2009 – trend or an aberration?

by on Nov.01, 2011

Kia sets another sales record, as did Audi and several other makers.

Sales of new vehicles once again showed considerable strength during October after a slow summer that had many worrying the industry – along with the overall U.S. economy – might be heading into a double-dip recession.

With collective sales coming in at an annualized rate of about 13.3 million, October was the best month since August 2009, at the end of the Cash-for-Clunkers program, according to J.D. Power and Associates.  But the question nagging industry leaders and analysts alike is whether October’s strong performance was merely an aberration or the beginning of a long-desired upward trend in a market still recovering from its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

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Several manufacturers, including Audi, reported records for October, while Honda broke out of a long slump and, with Chrysler leading the way, Detroit’s automakers continued to report better sales.

However, Toyota suffered another setback last month as overall sales dropped 4.3% despite larger inventories and rising incentives as well as what Toyota executives described as a strong start for sales of the new Camry.

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