Hyundai, Kia to boost sales of SUVs, electric cars in 2017

South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp. will work to increase their sales of sport utility vehicles as a way of expanding their global market share next year, the companies said Tuesday.

They will also seek to boost their combined market share for environmentally friendly cars and passenger vehicles with a series of new and improved vehicle models to be launched in 2017, they added.

Such a business strategy came at the end of a six-day meeting here for some 50 heads of the companies' overseas operations, in which they agreed the auto industry will likely continue to shrink in most parts of the world next year.

Hyundai and Kia together make up the world's fifth-largest automotive group by sales, Hyundai Motor Group.

According to the group, global auto sales were expected to grow 3.6 percent on-year to some 89.02 million units sold this year.

However, the rise came mostly from an estimated 15.5 percent spike in China, which had temporarily lowered its purchase tax on cars to 5 percent from 10 percent.

Those in charge of Hyundai and Kia operations in China noted that Beijing may again reduce its purchase tax on new autos next year, but only by 2.5 percentage points.

Consequently, the global auto market is expected to expand only 1.8 percent on-year to 90.68 million units next year, the group said in a press release.

"The United States will likely post its first negative growth in 7 years as U.S. rate hikes will likely weigh down on consumer sentiment there, while Europe, another axis of growth for the global auto market this year, will likely remain at a standstill following the depletion of pent up demand," it said.

Auto sales in China, the world's largest market, is expected to gain 4.4 percent in 2017, while the domestic market is expected to shrink 3.5 percent on-year, marking a second consecutive year of contraction following an anticipated 0.7 percent drop this year, it added.

The group did not provide any target for its own sales.

Still, the heads of Hyundai and Kia's overseas operations noted most of their products too will likely face a tough year, except for SUVs.

"By type, many believed the growing popularity of SUVs will likely continue for some time, while the world market for environmentally friendly cars will also continue to expand on the launch of new electric cars and plug-in hybrid cars by major automakers," the group said.

Against such a backdrop, both Hyundai and Kia will introduce new small SUVs in 2017, while Kia Motors will launch a new localized version of its flagship SUV the Sorento in China next year.

"The companies also plan to improve the competitiveness of their lineup of passenger sedans by launching and developing new region-specific models," they said.

The group earlier said the two carmakers under its wing will introduce seven new vehicles next year in what it called one of the most aggressive launch schedules.

They will include the all new Genesis G70 luxury sedan by Hyundai Motor and Kia's first-ever sport sedan, tentatively named the CK.

"Most of all, the companies will work to take a dominant position in global competition by establishing a sales-first system, under which all components of the companies will actively support vehicle sales, which will also mean actively reflecting the demands and requests of those selling vehicles in the very stage of development," the group said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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