Hyundai-Kia Eyes No. 4 Spot in Global Auto Sales

      December 23, 2010 10:32

      With Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group's global sales reaching 5.7 million cars this year, attention is turning to whether it will overtake the Renault-Nissan alliance to become the world's fourth largest carmaker. Hyundai ranked fifth last year, with Toyota on top followed by GM, Volkswagen, and Renault-Nissan.

      Hyundai sold 3.30 million cars worldwide from January through November this year and Kia 1.91 million, for a combined total of 5.22 million. The figure is an increase of 23 percent compared to last year, which is the highest growth rate in the industry.

      The company's sales goal for next year is 6.4 million, up 12 percent from this year's figure. According to consulting firm IHS Global Insight, global demand for vehicles is expected to increase 7 percent from 70 million this year to 75 million next year.

      ◆ Hyundai-Kia with Ambitious Goal

      If Hyundai-Kia achieves its goal of selling 6.4 million cars next year, there is a chance it will break into the ranks of the top four. It won't be that easy, however, to displace Renault-Nissan given that the alliance's sales have already surpassed 6 million this year. Realistically, Hyundai-Kia is likely to post sales of over 7 million units around 2013, which could bring the goal to fruition.

      "The sales gap between Hyundai-Kia and Renault-Nissan last year was just around 600,000 units," said Choi Dae-shik, a researcher with Hi Investment and Securities. "As Renault has been focusing on developing new technologies such as electric vehicles rather than quantitative expansion, the two automakers could see their ranks swap as early as next year."

      ◆ Fierce Competition Among Top 3

      Meanwhile, the battle among the three leading automotive giants -- Toyota, GM and Volkswagen -- is likely grow fiercer. Toyota announced on Tuesday a sales goal for next year of 8.61 million units (including its affiliates Daihatsu and Hino), an increase of 3 percent from this year. To achieve this, the company is implementing a strategy to reduce production in the Japanese market where demand for new cars is low and production costs are high, while increasing output across the global market.

      General Motors swelled to 7.61 million in global sales from January through November, up 12 percent from a year earlier, indicating that the automaker is well on track to a full recovery. GM set a target of selling more than 2.3 million cars annually in China, the world's largest market, while boosting exports to the European market through its Korean affiliate GM Daewoo.

      Volkswagen is expected to sell 7 million units this year for the first time in its history. It aims to sell 10 million cars in 2015, and overtake Toyota to rise to the top spot in 2018.

      Global automakers with a plan to expand sales are prioritizing the U.S. market, where demand for new vehicles is on the rise, and emerging markets like China and India. The U.S. is expected to see the largest increase in demand with 14.1 percent, followed by Brazil (14 percent), Russia (8.3 percent), India (8.2 percent), and China (5.5 percent), according to U.S.-based market researcher JD Power.

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