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S. Korean car models targeted for foreign markets drive sales

S. Korean car models targeted for foreign markets drive sales

Posted September. 04, 2020 08:28,   

Updated September. 04, 2020 08:28


Kia Motors sold a total of 57,015 cars in the U.S. market in August, which is 3,715 less than the previous year due to the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. The only model of the company that rose in sales compared to the previous year is Telluride, which is a U.S.-exclusive SUV launched in February 2019.

According to the auto industry on Thursday, Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors’ models exclusive to foreign markets are performing well despite the current economic slump. The strategy of Chung Eui-sun, the executive vice-chairman of Hyundai Motor Company, to “see from local customers’ eyes” seems to have worked.

Kia Motors will launch a new model named Sonet in India on September 18. The small SUV that reflects Indian consumers’ needs for improved fuel efficiency and features for convenience is manufactured in an Indian plant. In less than two weeks after the pre-sales began on August 20, over 10,000 units are booked for sale. Along with Seltos, which is also manufactured in India and was began sales in August 2019, the new model is garnering attention as an attractive option in the Indian SUV market. The average monthly sales of Seltos dropped at 4,707 in the second quarter of this year when COVID-19 was rampant, but the figure recovered to over 10,000 per month from July.

Hyundai Motor Company’s HB20, a small sedan exclusive to Brazil, is becoming one of the most commonly seen cars in Brazil after its launch in 2012 along with the opening of the company’s plant in Brazil. Its success has been attributed to the stable driving performance, which is valued by drivers due to poor road conditions in the country. From the second year of its launch, HB20 has been ranked top 10 in the Brazilian auto market, along with the brands of the U.S., Europe, and Japan that entered the market first. Although HB20’s new model launched at the end of last year struggled in the second quarter of this year due to the impact of COVID-19, its accumulated sales from January to July stands at 47,783 units, which is the highest record among Hyundai Motor Company’s overseas-exclusive models manufactured in overseas plants. The model is also exported to neighboring South American countries from this year.

Kia Motors’ hatchback Ceed produced in Slovakia has been consistently successful in the European market since its launch in 2006. Despite fierce competition among hatchback models in Europe, the South Korean car has recorded consistent sales with the highest sales record among the company’s overseas-exclusive models from January to July this year. Hyundai Motor Company’s i10 NIOS, a hatchback for the European market, and ix35, an SUV for the Chinese market, are also showing decent sales performance with an accumulated sales of over 30,000 cars during the same period.

Overseas-exclusive models are developed in close collaboration between Hyundai Motor Group’s R&D units, including Hyundai Kia Namyang Technology Research Center located in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, and local marketing teams. For example, the height of HB20 is 10 percent higher than other models of Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors in consideration of rugged road conditions with many rocks and high speed bumps in Brazil. Telluride features large space inside and plenty of features for convenience, such as USB charge ports, based on the detailed analysis of an average middle-class family of four in the U.S. “Rather than exporting popular cars in South Korea as they are, exclusive models for specific locations are developed by analyzing local consumers’ lifestyle and road conditions,” said a member of Hyundai Motor Group.

Hyung-Seok Seo skytree08@donga.com