Hyundai and Kia Sales in China Deteriorate Amid THAAD

Alice Lee, May 8, 2017, 10:02 a.m.

Chinese sales of Hyundai and affiliate Kia are deteriorating amid an unofficial boycott of Korean products there over a spat over the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here. Hyundai and Kia's car sales in China in March fell 52.2 percent compared to the same month of last year and a whopping 65.1 percent in April.

The two carmakers sold an estimated 51,059 vehicles in China last month, compared to 146,378 a year ago. Hyundai's sales dropped 63.5 percent and Kia's 68 percent. Industry watchers say Chinese customers started staying away from Hyundai and Kia showrooms in March, when the unofficial boycott started and rival automakers began massive discounts to make matters worse.

In January and February, Kia's sales there fell 24 and 39 percent but Hyundai's rose six and 12 percent. That changed in March as massive publicity in the Chinese media heralded the arrival of the missile defense battery here. As a result, cumulative sales in China in the first four months plunged 37.1 percent to 324,410 cars.

China is Hyundai-Kia's biggest overseas market, and a prolonged slump could lead to dire consequences. Overseas sales overall last month fell 13.9 percent.

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