S. Korea midsize car sales regain lost ground on Sonata facelift

SEOUL-- Sales of midsize vehicles exceeded those of large-size cars in March after losing ground for the past previous months, helped by strong demand for Hyundai Motor Co.'s facelifted Sonata sedan, industry data showed Thursday.

In March, the country's five carmakers -- Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 20,169 midsize vehicles, compared with 19,889 large-size vehicles sold last month, according to data offered by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA).

Last month, sales of Hyundai's upgraded Sonata sedan jumped 7.4 percent on-year to 7,578 units. Hyundai launched the Sonata "New Rise" sedan early last month in the domestic market.

The country's dominant carmaker plans to launch the latest Sonata in the United States in the third quarter to expand into the world's most important automobile market.

Other midsize models include Renault Samsung's SM6, Kia Motors' K5 and GM Korea's Malibu.

But, large-size vehicles are still ahead of midsize vehicles in accumulated sales for the January-March period. Hyundai's Grandeur large sedan received a strong response from customers since its launch in the local market in November.

Sales of full-size vehicles represented by Hyundai's Grandeur and Kia's K7 came to 51,445 units for the first three months, higher than 48,358 midsize vehicles sold for the first quarter, KAMA data said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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