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Sales volume plummets for local automakers

Mar 03,2020
Local automakers’ sales plummeted last month as demand for cars continued to fall amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The aggregate sales for Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors and SsangYong Motor dropped 11 percent to 505,212 units, from 567,756 units during the same period a year earlier.

Sales for Hyundai Motor, Korea’s largest automaker, dropped 13 percent on year to 275,044 cars. Sales by its sister company Kia fell 5 percent to 187,844 units. GM Korea’s sales shrank 14 percent to 28,126 units, and SsangYong Motor’s February sales dropped 27.4 percent.

Renault Samsung Motors saw the largest drop, with sales nose-diving 39.8 percent to 7,057 units.

All five automakers blamed the coronavirus outbreak pulling down demand and prompting setbacks in production for last month. Throughout February, all of the country’s automakers had to suspend operations and temporarily close their assembly plants due to the supply crunch of auto parts from China.

Hyundai Motor closed some of its plants from Feb. 5-12, as the extended Lunar New Year holidays from the coronavirus outbreak prompted longer-than-expected closures at Chinese factories. Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors halted all production at their plants in Korea on Feb. 7 and gradually started resuming operations.

GM Korea closed its Bupyeong factory in Incheon for two days, while Renault Samsung Motors halted operations for its only plant in Busan for three days. SsangYong Motor also had a nine-day shutdown at its plant in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi.

To overcome sluggish sales, Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors said they are introducing a large-scale promotion to rebound car sales for this month.

Hyundai’s promotion for the month of March will consist of discounts of up to 7 percent on four of its best-selling models: Avante, Sonata, Kona and Santa Fe. Depending on the vehicle purchased, the discounts are the cash equivalents of 1 million to 2.9 million won ($840 to $2,400). Avante buyers will also be offered low-interest monthly installment plans.

Kia Motors is introducing discounts of up to 8 percent on its new Sorento, while offering discounts of up to 2 million won for the Morning, K3, Sportage and Carnival.

The promotions follow a recent government decision to lower its special consumption tax on cars from 5 percent to 1.5 percent. The measure is in effect through June.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON AND KO JUN-TAE [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]