SEOUL -- South Korean carmakers, led by Hyundai Motor Co., reported on Friday an 18 percent rise in June sales from a year ago as a flood of new models rekindled consumer demand at home and as exports maintained a healthy pace.
The sales outlook for the industry, which accounts for a tenth of the country's exports, was further brightened by a fall in the won currency and easing oil prices, analysts said.
"New model launches are helping to stimulate long-delayed replacement demand for automobiles," said Kim Hak-joo, auto analyst at Samsung Securities.
"Local auto sales had been exceptionally low and new model launches are starting to show some effect and revive optimism over a consumption recovery," Kim said.
Exports by the country's five automakers, which have held up well in recent months, saw a 20 percent rise to a combined 369,853 units in June from a year earlier.
Offering tentative signs of a long-awaited recovery in domestic consumer demand, local sales rose 9.8 percent to 100,501 vehicles. Overall car sales last month rose to 470,354, up from 399,861 a year ago.
Top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. recorded an 18-percent jump in June sales from a year ago, as its newly launched Grandeur premium sedan and best selling Sonata attracted customers back to showrooms.
The world's seventh-largest carmaker sold a monthly record 232,515 vehicles last month compared with 196,497 units a year before. Exports jumped 21 percent to 181,477 units, while domestic sales rose 10.2 percent to 51,038 units.
Total sales rose 15 percent from May as well.
"We had record monthly sales in June. Exports were robust and, more encouragingly, local sales are making much headway with the help of new models," said spokesman Park Sang-woo.
Hyundai has bolstered its profile on the world stage by spending heavily to improve vehicle quality. A higher ranking in the influential 2005 J.D. Power and Associates survey has raised hopes for better sales in the key U.S. market.
Hyundai Motor America said recently it saw a sharp fall in problems reported by owners, while its Sonata was named among the three most dependable vehicles in the Entry Midsize Car category of the survey.
Hyundai formally opened its first U.S. plant in Alabama in May, with analysts seeing the plant as a litmus test for the company's success in the world market.
Hyundai expects to increase its U.S. sales about 16 percent this year to 485,000 vehicles, winning market share from struggling auto giants General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
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Hyundai's affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said its June sales rose 12 percent to 119,144 units. Its new subcompact Morning model and smaller Sportage SUV helped drive local sales 12 percent higher to 23,531 units.
Kia's exports also rose 12 percent to 95,613 vehicles.
Ssangyong Motor Co., owned by China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., posted a meager 2.1 percent rise in June sales after a production stoppage for a line-up change in May. Sales rose to 13,603 units from a year ago.
GM Daewoo Automotive and Technology Co., South Korea's third-largest carmaker, said June exports jumped 24 percent to 86,371 units, taking total sales to 94,727, up 23 percent. Its domestic sales rose 16 percent to 9,356 units.
GM, the world's largest auto maker, took a majority stake in some Daewoo Motor assets in 2002, creating the unlisted GM Daewoo.
The launch of the large SM7 and the SM5 sedan helped Renault Samsung Motors Inc., the South Korean unit of Renault SA, recover from a long sales slump. Its June sales soared 52 percent to 10,365 units.