South Korean auto sales fall to three-year low

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Seoul, Feb 1 (IANS) South Korean automobile sales fell to a three-year low during the first month of this year as consumption tax cuts ended, official data issued on Monday showed.

Auto sales in the domestic market by five South Korean automakers — Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Samsung and Ssangyong — reached 106,308 units in January — down 4.8 percent from 111,620 vehicles tallied in the same month of last year, Xinhua news agency reported.

The January figure marked the lowest since February 2013 when the local carmakers sold 98,826 vehicles.

Local car sales by Hyundai, the country’s top car manufacturer, shed 1.1 percent, while its affiliate Kia saw its sales rise 4.6 percent. Sales by GM Korea, Renault Samsung and Ssangyong tumbled 21.7 percent, 63.4 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

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The sales-slump came as the temporary cuts in consumption tax ended at the end of last year.

Demand for luxury items, including autos, slowed down during the first month of this year.

Car exports tumbled 14.2 percent from a year earlier to 520,007 units in January due to uncertainties in emerging economies. Exports by Hyundai and Kia posted a double-digit decline, but those for three other carmakers gained last month.

Combined global car sales by the five car-making companies reached 626,315 units in January, down 12.8 percent from a year earlier and dropping 32.4 percent from the previous month.

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