Korean brands put heat on VW

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THERE has been a ma­jor shake-up in global car sales this year, but it’s not the sort of thing you might have ex­pected.

For a start, and de­spite its nearcol­lapse, Gen­eral Motors ran Toy­ota aw­fully close on the show­room to­tals for the first half of the year.

Ac­cord­ing to re­sults from the Au­to­mo­tive News data cen­tre in the US, Toy­ota was only 11,373 sales ahead at the half­way point of this year.

GM was ob­vi­ously helped by a huge bank­ruptcy sales push, in- clud­ing sales on eBay this month, but Toy­ota was also down to a rel­a­tively or­di­nary 3,564,105 ve­hi­cles at the end of June.

The real sur­prise is Korea’s Kia-Hyundai group.

It has now pow­ered to fourth over­all, pass­ing Ford, sell­ing 8000 more ve­hi­cles glob­ally than the Amer­i­can gi­ant.

The gap be­tween the two com­pa­nies was more than a mil­lion at the end of last year, but Ford has slipped badly dur­ing the global eco­nomic cri­sis while Ki­aHyundai has ac­tu­ally made gains in many coun­tries with its value­first ve­hi­cles.

The twin Korean brands have made mas­sive leaps since the early 1990s, when Hyundai was aim­ing to make the global top 10. Even in the late ’90s the newly uni­fied com­pany could make only 11th over­all on the world­wide sales charts.

But now its goal is a top three spot, which means it would have to ac­cel­er­ate past Volk­swa­gen.

It trails the Ger­man com­pany by a lit­tle un­der a mil­lion ve­hi­cles at this year’s half­way point, which means it will have to make big im­prove­ments in com­ing years.

Stranger things have hap­pened.

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