Hyundai aims 4.68m global vehicle sales


Hyundai's efforts to expand into new market segments comes as sales growth is expected to get tougher.

Hyundai Motor aims to sell 4.68 million vehicles globally in 2018, the South Korean automaker said on Tuesday. Auto exports also weakened on low demand for South Korean vehicles in the Chinese market.

Hyundai and smaller affiliate Kia said demand was expected to soften in the USA and Chinese markets as they unveiled a combined sales target of 7.55 million vehicles this year, from 7.25 million vehicles last year.

"The market environment is expected to be hard due to a slowdown in major markets like the USA and China, prolonged low growth in the global economy and trade protectionism in major countries", Hyundai Motor said in a statement.

While Hyundai Motor has plans to offer more SUVs in the United States and China this year, analysts said new models such as the redesigned Santa Fe SUV may come too late in the year to significantly impact sales.

Sales were down 7% in 2017 compared to 2016, coming up far short of the target set by the company of more than 8.25 million vehicles which marked the third straight annual shortfall in projections, as buyers in the US and China are shunning sedans more and more and buying SUVs.

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Global auto sales by Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Samsung and Ssangyong totaled 8,196,053 units in 2017, down 6.9 percent from the previous year.

"I don't expect them now to go back to the time they sold about 8-million cars", said Kim Joon-sung, an analyst at Meritz Securities, adding that the vehicle makers were still recovering from the blow they received in China in 2017.

Hyundai shares were down 4.2% Tuesday while Kia Motors ended lower by 2.1%.

South Korea and the USA will have talks on a trade deal January 5 although the pact has been threatened to be withdrawn by President Donald Trump.

The tax cut expiration for small engine vehicles in China would also negatively hit Hyundai's lineup of sedan heavy vehicles, they said.