Hyundai, Kia sales in China plunge 65 pct last month

SEOUL-- Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. saw their combined sales in China plunge 65.1 percent last month from a year earlier amid a row over the deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea, auto analysts said Monday.

In May, Hyundai and Kia sold 52,485 vehicles in China, the world's biggest automobile market. Hyundai's sales fell 65 percent to 35,100 units, and Kia's declined 65.3 percent to 17,385, the analysts said.

The carmakers' official sales data in China will be available around June 20, a Hyundai spokesman said.

The sale of South Korean products has been affected by an ongoing row between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.

China has opposed the THAAD installation in South Korea as it claimed the battery system's powerful X-band radar system could spy on its military. Seoul has maintained the anti-missile system is aimed at countering missile threats from North Korea.

In the January-May period, overall sales of Hyundai and Kia in China declined 43 percent to 376,895 units compared with the period a year ago.

If the carmakers continue to suffer declines in China sales, analysts say they won't achieve their annual sales target of 8.25 million units for this year. Last year, they sold 7.9 million units globally.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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