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    Hyundai Motor unlikely to meet 2008 U.S. sales target

    Reuters
    12.10.2008 - 11:16 | Son Güncelleme: 12.10.2008 - 11:15

    Hyundai Motor, South Korea's top auto maker, is unlikely to meet its U.S. sales target for this year as the U.S. financial crisis hit demand in the world's top auto market, a company president said.

    Hyundai, the world's No.5 car maker along with its affiliate Kia Motors, still plans to go ahead with investment in new factories in Russia and Brazil as the outlooks for those markets is bright, Choi Jae-kook, a president of Hyundai's international sales, said late on Friday.

    "We will face difficulties in developed markets such as the U.S. and Europe. As all of you know, (the) credit crisis is much bigger than expected with a U.S. $700 billion bailout and worldwide rate cuts failing to help financial markets," Choi told reporters after unveiling the Genesis Coupe, Hyundai's first real-wheel drive sportscar.

    Hyundai aim has been to sell over 500,000 vehicles in the United States in 2008, compared with 467,009 units last year.
    Choi declined to provide a new sales target.

    Hyundai sold 337,664 vehicles in the United States during the first nine months of 2008, 5.8 percent less than a year ago.

    Earlier this month, Hyundai's vice president for Europe told Reuters the company expected its European sales to be flat at best this year as the overall market tumbles, slashing its forecast from the 18 percent growth projected at the beginning of the year.

    The remarks come as global automakers have been riding on a bumpy road, especially in developed countries, as the global credit crunch hit financial markets and economic growth.

    J.D. Power and Associates said earlier this month worldwide car makers might experience an "outright collapse" in 2009 amid growing concerns about availability of credit and general economic stress.

    Still, Choi was optimistic about Hyundai's overall overseas sales saying the maker of the Elantra compact car is competitive in the market for small and medium-sized sedans.

    "More customers are looking for smaller models amid factors including high oil prices. And a recent economic slowdown caused a big jump in even U.S. small car sales and we are looking for the trend," he said.

    Stronger demand in emerging markets is also expected to help offset sluggish sales in developed countries and the company will carry out investment plans in Russia and Brazil, he added.

    Hyundai plans to build a $600 million car factory in Brazil and started setting up a plant in Russia with investment of 330 million euros ($402 million).

    "For now, Russia and Brazil are likely to be the fastest growing markets ... so we will go ahead with the original investment plans," he said.

    On Friday, shares in Hyundai ended down 4.06 percent at 68,600 won, compared with a 4.13 percent drop in the wider market.

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