April 19, 2019 13:15
Hyundai's sales in China in the first three months of this year were even worse than during an unofficial boycott in 2017 and the lowest first-quarter figures in 10 years.
Hyundai said Thursday that it sold just 132,678 cars in China from January to March of this year, down 18.4 percent on-year. Sales of key models like the Elantra compact (sold as the Avante in Korea) and Tucson small SUV were both slow.
Sales of commercial buses and trucks were even the worst ever at just 1,210 vehicles, so the division was forced to eat into its capital reserves to stay afloat.
Hyundai has decided to halt production at its oldest Beijing plant with a capacity for 300,000 cars a year and started drastic downsizing. Affiliate Kia will also halt production at one plant in Yancheng next month.
Industry watchers believe more downsizing will be needed as local rival are in the ascendant. Chinese carmaker Geely rose to the No. 3 spot after rolling out cheaper cars with high-tech functions, while Japanese rivals Honda, Nissan and Toyota are also seeing sales grow in the luxury segment due to their solid image.
"We can't afford to give up on the Chinese market," a Hyundai executive said. "We will implement adequate restructuring and adjust output while rolling out new models that appeal to Chinese consumers."
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