Hyundai and Kia big winners in China-Japan spat

Hyundai and Kia the big car industry winners as Toyota and others feel backlash from China

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2012, 3:01am

Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors forecast China sales will exceed their targets as South Korea's two largest carmakers benefit from anti-Japan protests.

The two probably would sell more vehicles this year than the 1.25 million they had projected, Seoul-based Hyundai Motor said.

Combined deliveries rose to 127,827 units last month, or 9.5 per cent higher than the previous record set a year earlier, it said.

Non-Japanese brands stand to gain as mainland consumers shun products from Toyota Motor to Sony after a territorial dispute escalated last month, when Japan decided to purchase a group of islands claimed by both countries.

JPMorgan Chase economists warned last week the political row between Asia's two largest economies would cause Japan's GDP to contract this quarter.

"Although the China sales results are definitely good news for Hyundai and Kia as a whole, the benefits from the anti-Japan movements aren't likely to last long," said Lee Sang-hyun, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan all planned to resume output at about half their normal levels yesterday when workers returned to their jobs after the end of the week-long National Day holiday, the Nikkei business daily said.

Nissan would suspend its night shift and operate its mainland factories only during the day "for the time being", while Toyota and Honda planned to cut operating hours and run production lines at slower speeds, the daily said.

If the production cut continued for a month, each of the three firms was likely to suffer a reduction of between 30,000 and 40,000 units, the Nikkei said.

Last week, Mazda Motor reported deliveries on the mainland tumbled 35 per cent to the lowest in 19 months, while Mitsubishi Motors also said that Chinese sales plunged 63 per cent.

In September, traditionally a major mainland shopping season, Hyundai Motor and Kia sales in the country were driven by the Langdong and K2 models, respectively, according to the Hyundai statement. Deliveries at Hyundai Motor showed a healthy 15 per cent increase to 84,188 units, while the numbers climbed to 43,639 units from 43,508 units at Kia.

Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse