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Hyundai, Kia's U.S. sales almost flat in 2018

15:11 January 14, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. posted 0.6 percent on-year sales growth in the United States last year due to a slowing economy and a lack of competitive models, the companies said Monday.

In 2018, Hyundai and Kia sold a combined 1.27 million vehicles in the U.S. market. Hyundai's sales fell 1.1 percent on-year to 677,946 units and Kia's were little changed compared to a year earlier at 589,763 units, Hyundai Motor Group said in a statement, citing figures from Autodata Ltd., a leading British global automotive technical information provider.

The two South Korean carmakers responded belatedly to growing demand for sport utility vehicles in the world's most important automobile market, leading to weak sales results last year.

Hyundai launched the all-new Santa Fe SUV in the U.S. late last year and plans to introduce the Palisade flagship SUV and a new entry-level SUV, the group said in a statement.

It also intends to launch an all-new Sonata sedan in the U.S. this year to help boost sales, it said.

Kia said it will launch the Telluride SUV and a new entry-level SUV in the U.S. in 2019. The Telluride will be produced at Kia's plant in Georgia and sold only in North American markets, it said.

Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, are stepping up their drive to strengthen their lineups with new SUV models for North America.

Overall vehicle sales in the U.S. gained 0.6 percent to 17.33 million units in 2018. There is a forecast that vehicle demand in the U.S. will fall to under 17 million autos due to higher interest rates this year, the statement said.

The won's volatility against the dollar, tougher competition with Japanese rivals due to a weaker yen and the U.S. government's possible tariffs on imported vehicles remain major woes for the Korean carmakers this year, it said.

Hyundai's Palisade SUV (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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