Sister companies Hyundai and Kia forecast their weakest sales growth in eight years due to increasing competition and the stronger Korean won. Chung Mong Koo, chairman of both automakers, said Hyundai and Kia’s combined deliveries will increase 4.1 percent to 7.86 million vehicles in 2014.
That’s the slowest growth since 2006 and falls short of the 8 million units projection based on the average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Chung said the carmakers will invest in improving vehicle safety and technology as competition intensifies and the global economy reaches a “low growth era”. The Korean won gained about 8 percent against the dollar and 13 percent versus the Japanese yen in the past six months, affecting sales.
Hyundai plans to increase sales by 3.8 percent to 4.9 million vehicles this year, while Kia targets increased deliveries by 4.7 percent at 2.96 million units. Last week Hyundai named David Zuchowski, its former U.S. sales boss, to lead its U.S. unit after the automaker lost market share in the country, the company’s biggest market after China.
Hyundai’s U.S. sales rose 2.2 percent in the first 11 months of 2013, while Kia’s sales fell to 501,548 units from 518,421 units.
Hyundai’s sales in China rose 24 percent to 931,330 units in the first 11 months of 2013 and the carmaker is on track to exceed its annual target of 970,000 units. Kia beat its full-year target of 500,000 with a month to spare, selling 526,525 vehicles from January through November.
By Dan Mihalascu