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Sept. car sales fall 21 pct amid chip shortage

SEOUL-- South Korean carmakers' sales fell 21 percent last month from a year earlier as an extended global chip shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on vehicle production and sales, industry data showed Friday.

The country's five carmakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 539,236 vehicles in September, down from 679,669 units a year ago, according to data from the companies.

Their domestic sales declined 34 percent to 91,790 units from 138,530, while overseas sales dropped 17 percent to 447,446 from 541,139 during the same period, the data showed.

In September, Hyundai's sales fell 22 percent to 281,196 units from 361,711 a year ago. Its affiliate Kia's declined 14 percent to 223,593 from 217,336 during the same period.

On top of the lack of semiconductors parts, fewer working days due to the Chuseok holiday, the Korean autumn harvest celebration, affected sales last month, the companies said.

Hyundai had suspended the Asan plant several times since July due to the parts problems, which affected the production of the Santa Fe sport utility vehicle and the Sonata sedan.

To ride out the pandemic, Hyundai and Kia said they will focus on promoting their new models, including Hyundai's all-electric IONIQ 5 crossover utility vehicle and Kia's K8 sedan and all-electric EV6 model, for the rest of the year.

They aim to sell a combined 7.08 million vehicles this year, 1.7 percent lower than the 7.2 million units they sold last year.

In the first nine months, Hyundai and Kia sold a combined 5.05 million autos, up 13 percent from 4.47 million units in the year-ago period.

Three other carmakers also suffered a decline in domestic sales last month due to parts shortages and lack of new models.

Increased exports at SsangYong Motor and Renault Samsung did not help drive up their overall results last month. GM Korea was the worst performer in domestic sales and exports.

SsangYong's domestic sales fell 53 percent on-year to 3,859 autos last month from 8,208, while exports rose 29 percent to 2,091 from 1,626 during the cited period.

Renault Samsung's local sales declined 26 percent to 4,401 from 5,934, while exports soared to 10,346 from 1,452 on increased shipments of the XM3 SUV.

But GM Korea's local sales dropped 37 percent to 3,872 from 6,097, and exports plunged 71 percent to 9,878 from 34,447.

From January to September, the five automakers' combined sales rose 10 percent to 5.41 million units from 4.90 million in the year-ago period.

Their domestic sales fell 10 percent to 1.07 million autos in the nine-month period from 1.19 million units a year earlier, while overseas sales jumped 17 percent to 4.34 million from 3.71 million.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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