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US auto sales

Hyundai Motor, Kia overtake Ford in US auto sales in May

The Korean automakers were less affected by the automotive chip shortage

By Jun 09, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai Motor's new pickup truck Santa Cruze will be launched in the US later this year.
Hyundai Motor's new pickup truck Santa Cruze will be launched in the US later this year.

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp., the two automaking units of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, in May sold more cars in the US than Ford Motor Co., overtaking the American auto giant in sales for the first time.

The two Korean automakers sold a combined 174,043 cars in the American market last month, extending their record monthly sales to the third straight month.

Their May auto sales outnumbered Ford’s by 13,523 units, according to the Automotive News and other media outlets on June 9.

That marks the first time the Korean automakers have outsold the second-largest US auto giant in America since Hyundai and Kia entered the market 35 years ago.

Ford has been selling about 2.4 million cars a year in the US, double the volume of Hyundai Motor and Kia combined.

With the May sales data, Hyundai and Kia took fifth place in the American market following General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Honda, according to industry officials.

In the US, one of Hyundai Motor Group’s biggest overseas markets, the Korean automakers have posted decent growth in recent months, driven by strong sales of sport-utility vehicles and luxury models under the premium brand of Genesis.

Ford Motor's new electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck
Ford Motor's new electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck

SKILLFUL MANAGEMENT OF AUTO PARTS INVENTORIES

Analysts said Hyundai’s stronger sales than Ford derive from the Korean companies’ skillful management of auto component inventories, including automotive chips

The global chip shortage, which began with a declining supply of automotive chips, has been crippling swaths of industries beyond the electronic devices sector, disrupting supply chains worldwide.

For the auto industry, one of the first sectors hit by the global chip shortage, the situation has been worse, with companies like GM, Ford and Volkswagen idling some of their factories.

Ford suspended or drastically slashed auto production at its US plans over the past two months with its sales falling from 213,300 units in March to 197,063 cars in April and 160,052 units in May.

By contrast, Hyundai and Kia’s combined US auto sales increased from 144,923 units in March to 150,994 units in April and 174,043 cars in May.

The Korean automakers have also put some of their domestic plants on hold, compromising the production of their flagship models, including the Sonata and Grandeur sedans as well as the electric vehicle IONIQ5.

In the US, Hyundai’s Alabama plant has briefly cut its production volume, while Kia halted its Georgia factory for just two days in May.

Analysts expect the global chip shortage to ease from the second half with chipmakers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics Co. ramping up their chipmaking facilities.

With improving conditions, competition among automakers to expand market share is expected to heat up in the US.

In its efforts to gain ground in the heavy-duty vehicle segment, Hyundai Motor plans to launch the Santa Cruze, its first pickup truck for the US market, in the second half of this year.

Write to Il-Gue Kim and Hyung-Kyu Kim at Black0419@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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