SEOUL, South Korea – Automakers
Hyundai and its affiliate Kia are forecasting their weakest annual sale
growth in more than a decade thanks to more intense competition and a slowing
THE POWER TO SURPRISE: Kia’s second-generation Soul MPV has even more refinements along with greater emotional appeal. Image: Dave Fall
Hyundai Motor Group, the world's
fifth-largest automaker, said on Friday (Jan 2 2015) that the two hoped to
sell a combined 8.2-million vehicles through 2015, only 2.5% more than 2014’s
Sales had increased by four
percent in each of the two preceding years.
Chairman Chung Mong-koo told
employees in his New Year speech that the group should cut costs, increase
productivity and share components to fend off competition from Japanese
rivals which have the benefit of a weaker yen.
Hyundai/Kia sales grew at double-digit
rates until 2011 as the group weathered the 2008 financial crisis by
introducing racier designs and better marketing; a weaker Korean won helped.
Sales in 2010 soared by 24% through global exports but the momentum has slowed since 2012 as the won
strengthened against the yen and foreign vehicle brands gained popularity in
South Korea. Then a series of recalls and quality issues challenged the sister brands
in Korea home and overseas.
Chung said the auto group would
prioritise brand improvement through research and development and increase
investment in eco-friendly technology.