S. Korean Carmakers Vie for Bigger Piece of China's Auto Market


South Korea's major carmakers will showcase their flagship models at China's biggest motor show this week, hoping to expand their presence in one of the world's fastest growing auto markets, industry sources said Wednesday. More than 400,000 cars from auto giants such as Ford Motor Co. of the United States and Volkswagen of Germany will be on display at the eighth biennial Beijing International Motor Show, which runs for eight days from Wednesday. Major car manufacturers from around the world are eyeing China, where auto sales grew 80 percent to 2.04 million units last year, as their next base of growth, according to local analysts. South Korean carmakers, joining the fray, hope to use the Beijing Motor Show as a catalyst for strengthening their standing in the Chinese auto market, the analysts said. Hyundai Motor Co. (KSE:005380), South Korea's largest automaker, will display 10 models, including its new Tucson sport utility vehicle (SUV), which is to make its Chinese debut at the show. Kia Motors Corp. (KSE:000270), a Hyundai Motor affiliate, will exhibit seven automobiles, including its best-selling compact Qianlima, high-end sedan Opirus, SUV Sorento and hardtop concept convertible KCVIII. It will also introduce a new version of its nine-seat Carnival minivan, company officials said. Hyundai Motor's 50-50 joint venture Beijing plant with Beijing Automotive Industries Holding Corp. has sold 98,264 units since its foundation in December 2002 and the 100,000-mark is expected to be surpassed within this month. Buoyed by the robust sales growth, Beijing Hyundai Motor revised its annual sales growth upward from 130,000 vehicles to 150,000 vehicles. Ssangyong Motor Corp., South Korea's No. 4 carmaker, will show five vehicles, mostly SUVS, and hold a launch event for its new SUV-style minivan Rodius. Ssangyong (KSE:003620) is hoping to use Rodius to secure a strong bridgehead in China's high-end auto market and aims to sell 1,000 units there this year and 1,800 units next year, according to company officials. The automaker pushed up the minivan's scheduled launch from early next year to the latter half of this year, they added. GM Daewo Auto & Technology Co., South Korea's third-biggest carmaker and under the control of U.S. auto giant General Motors, will display its Lacetti compact, sold in China as the Buick Excelle, at the show. - Source from Yonhap News (Jun 9, 2004) -