SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest automaker, said on Friday its sales rose 14.9 percent in April from a year earlier to 189,286 units, driven by strong exports of SUVs and large sedans.
Hyundai, 10 percent owned by DaimlerChrysler, has recently reaped the benefit of past heavy investment in upgrading and improving reliability of its cars.
The South Korean automaker said exports in April rose 41.0 percent from a year ago to 128,988 units, while domestic sales fell 17.7 percent to 60,298.
"Domestic sales fell due to the difficult market situation," Hyundai said in a statement, refering to the Iraq war, the deadly SARS virus and North Korea's nuclear issues.
But Hyundai had its best April in history in the U.S. market with sales up 8.7 percent year on the year at 35,001 units, despite overall U.S. auto sales falling sharply in April for the fourth consecutive month.
Hyundai ranks seventh in U.S. auto sales with a 2.5 percent market share, just behind Japan's Nissan, but ahead of Mitsubishi and Germany's Volkswagen.
"Hyundai is outperforming the overall market, as its brand marketing and new incentives are taking effect," said Cho Soo-hong, an analyst at Dongbu Securities.
Hyundai has jumped into the relentless price war in the U.S. market, beginning to offer cash rebates for many models in March, together with extended warranties.
"Though domestic sales are slowing, Hyundai has proven its ability to offset them with strong exports," Cho said.