S. Korean carmakers’ March sales fall 10% globally amid chip shortages

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South Korean carmakers’ sales fell 10 per cent last month from a year earlier, as global chip supply disruptions continued to affect vehicle production and sales, industry data showed on Friday.

The five carmakers in South Korea, Hyundai Motor, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Korea Motors and SsangYong Motor — sold a combined 608,398 vehicles in March, down from 676,476 units a year ago, according to data from the companies.

Their domestic sales declined 21 per cent to 111,124 units in March from 141,205 a year ago. Overseas sales also dropped 7.1 per cent to 497,274 from 535,271 during the same period, the data showed.

Hyundai and its smaller affiliate Kia saw the lack of semiconductor parts weigh on their monthly sales results in March.

Hyundai’s sales fell 17 per cent to 313,926 units from 378,246 a year ago, and Kia’s declined 0.9 per cent to 259,646 from 252,943 during the same period.

The country’s two biggest carmakers said they will make efforts to minimise the impact of the supply disruptions by readjusting their vehicle production schedules amid the pandemic.

This year, Hyundai and Kia said they will continue to focus on promoting their SUV models, including Hyundai’s all-electric IONIQ 5 crossover utility vehicle, to ride out the unprecedented virus crisis in global markets.

They aim to sell a combined 7.08 million vehicles this year, 1.7 per cent lower than the 7.2 million units they sold last year.

GM Korea’s sales fell 16 per cent to 24,821 units in March from 29,633 a year ago due to the chip problems.

But Renault Korea Motors’ sales jumped 21 per cent on-year to 10,409 units from 8,572 during the same period, helped by strong exports.

SsangYong Motor’s sales climbed 21 per cent to 8,596 units from 7,122.

In April last year, SsangYong was placed under court receivership for the second time after undergoing the same process a decade earlier.

Its Indian parent Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. failed to attract an investor due to the prolonged Covid pandemic and its worsening financial status.

From January to March, the five carmakers’ combined sales fell 6.3 per cent to 1.7 million units from 1.8 million in the year-ago period.

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