Hyundai and Kia see 2016 sales lagging industry growth

By REUTERS | 4 January 2016

SEOUL: Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors expect their vehicle sales to rise 1.5 percent this year, lagging industry growth forecasts, after missing their target in 2015 for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis.

The South Korean automakers, once out-performers in the global industry, have been losing momentum in recent years, with Japanese and US rivals making a comeback in the United States while demand slows in China and other emerging markets.

The pair are expected to see China sales bounce back thanks to tax cuts on small cars this year, but demand in Russia, Brazil and other key emerging markets will remain depressed, analysts said. Hyundai and Kia, together the world's fifth-largest automaker by sales, are also bracing for a weaker recovery in South Korea and the United States.

"Business uncertainty has grown," Chung Mong-koo, chief of the family-run Hyundai Motor Group, said in a statement today.

"The world economy is expected to continue its low growth because of China's economic slowdown, low oil prices and jitters in emerging markets stemming from US interest rate hikes," he said.

The two automakers forecast their global sales would rise to 8.13 million vehicles in 2016, or 1.5 percent, compared with the 2.9 percent rise in overall global vehicle sales projected by their think-tank.

The South Korean duo posted flat 2015 sales of 8.01 million vehicles, falling short of their 8.2 million target. Hyundai Motor expects 2016 sales of 5.01 million vehicles, while Kia Motors set its 2016 goal at 3.12 million vehicles.

They did not immediately give a breakdown of their 2015 sales by company.

The 2016 sales target fell short of the 8.2 million that Samsung Securities analyst Esther Yim had expected. "I expect the global market to be tough except for China," she said.

Kia plans to open its first Mexico factory in the first half of 2016, while Hyundai Motor is set to start production at its fourth China factory in the second half.