Koreans Want A Bigger Share Of Europe, U.S.

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
koreans want a bigger share of europe u s

Automakers in the U.S., Europe, and Japan are getting increasingly worried about the Korean Twins, Hyundai and Kia. Both had already outpaced the U.S. and European market last year. Today, Kia announced aggressive plans for both regions.

This year, Kia wants to lift sales in Europe by 22.8 percent to 356,000 vehicles. U.S. sales of Kias are budgeted to rise 10 percent to 534,000 vehicles this year, Kia told reporters at the quarterly results meeting in Seoul today.

Speaking of results, Reuters reports that the last quarter was a bit of a disappointment. Profits in the October-December quarter dropped 3.5 percent to 790.4 billion won ($704.52 million) from a year earlier. Analysts had expected 1.1 trillion won.

2011 Sales Hyundai, Kia


At first glance, the aggressive posture of the Koreans in Europe appears baffling. The European car market as a whole has been deteriorating. Last year, it was down 1.7 percent. This year, it is expected to be down 3 to 5 percent. Looking at Europe`s demographics, the trend points downwards. In the U.S. moderate growth is predicted.

Kia and Hyundai seem to be intent on exploiting the new frugality. They want to capture more market share in Europe, while European makers try to hold ground at home and focus on Asian growth markets instead. Internally ( and sometimes in public,) they benchmark Hyundai.

One market seems to be unaffected by the Korean onslaught: Japan. After a lackluster attempt on penetrating the Japanese market, Hyundai took its ball in 2009, and went home.

Join the conversation
10 of 16 comments
  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Jan 27, 2012

    the problem is the koreans are fighting this war with cheap, well designed, reliable cars with long industry leading warranties how dare they fight this war so unfairly!

    • See 1 previous
    • Patrickj Patrickj on Jan 27, 2012

      Imagine how Hyundai will do once they figure out how to build a comfortable seat. I had 4 one-hour rides in a new Hyundai Elantra this week. Seats were as bad as those in an 81 Fairmont that four of us had to pad with newspaper after a few hours.

  • Rpol35 Rpol35 on Jan 27, 2012

    Does your mini spreadsheet mean full year 2011 sales vs. 2010 sales? If so, that's pretty robust growth.

  • Philadlj Philadlj on Jan 27, 2012
    Koreans Want A Bigger Share Of the U.S., eh? That's nice. I'm sure Americans would like a bigger share of South Korea too. In 2010, for instance, we exported > 14,000 vehicles there, while Korea exported 515,000 vehicles to the U.S. Those numbers are probably even more lopsided this year, even with the new Chevy Sonic import deal, as Hyundai and Kia continue to gain popularity. This means Korea, a nation only one sixth as populous as the U.S. with a tenth of its GDP, sent thirty-six times more vehicles here than the U.S. sent there. Are South Koreans really thirty-six times more deserving of auto manufacturing jobs than Americans? Is their labor thirty-six times cheaper? Are Korean cars thirty-six times better than American cars? No, no, and no. Koreans seem to prefer homegrown Korean cars more than Americans prefer American cars. And Hyundai and Kia do offer an admirable and powerful combination of features, style, and value. However I still think steps can be taken to balance out that massive disparity. Korea: Americans are willing to buy so many of your cars. Why not return the favor - if not by buying more of ours, by opening more factories and putting more Americans to work so they can buy more of yours?
  • Icemilkcoffee Icemilkcoffee on Jan 27, 2012

    The european market is more difficult to crack the the US market. If the japanese car makers couldn't establish much of a presence in europe, after 30 years of trying- I doubt the korean makers will be able to do a whole lot better.