General Motors Korea Co. backpedalled in September sales performance in contrast to upbeat results from its local rivals, a setback to the U.S. carmaker with a downsizing rumor widely circulating in Korea.
General Motors Korea said Tuesday that it sold 8,991 cars in September, down 36.1 percent from a year ago, marking the first time that its monthly sales fell to below 9,000 since January 2012.
Market analysts attribute the poor results to the lack of new models that catch consumers’ attention. GM’s most recent models - Chevrolet Captiva and Orlando - are already treated as outdated cars by local consumers as rivals continue to launch new cars.
This performance could further weaken GM Korea’s position within the broader GM network where a global reorganization is underway, according to industry insiders. GM said last Wednesday (local time) it will combine the leadership of its International and South America regions, with the new unit to be led by Barry Engle. The streamlining will simplify operations into three regions - North America, China and International. The move is seen as the firm’s attempt to scale back its presence in money-losing markets.
GM has significantly cut its international operations over the past five years, pulling out from Australia and Indonesia, while downsizing business activities across Europe, India and South Africa. It is reportedly slimming down the Korean business as well.
In contrast, Hyundai Motor Co. and its sibling Kia Motors Corp., Korea’s top two automakers, performed well in their home market. Hyundai sold 59,714 vehicles last month, up a whopping 43.7 percent on year. Kia’s sales grew 25.4 percent at 48,019 units.
The stellar results were driven by the success of their new car lineup. Sales of Kona, Hyundai’s first compact sport utility vehicle, came to 5,386 units in September to lead the sector for two straight months. The luxury sedan Genesis G70, which was rolled out late September, already posted 386 unit sales with more than 3,000 on the waiting list. Kia did well in its recreational vehicles, including Stonic, Sorento and Carnival.
The absence of labor strikes last month also helped up their domestic sales. Labor unions of the two companies failed to stage strikes in September due to voting issues for new leadership. In the same month of last year, Hyundai union members went on strike for 10 days and Kia seven, leading to supply disruptions.
Ssangyong Motor Co. ranked third with sales up 18.2 percent on-year to 9,465 units, hitting a record monthly high.
Sales of Renault Samsung Motors Co. fell 20.2 percent to 7,362 vehicles.
By Park Chang-young
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]