Hyundai and Kia topped U.S. car sales in the midsize segment for the second consecutive month in December, industry data showed Sunday.
Hyundai Motor Group, which owns Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, sold 32,834 midsize sedans in the U.S. market last month, slightly outpacing Japan’s Toyota that sold some 31,000 units.
The Korean auto giant grabbed the top position in the segment in November for the first time since its entry into the U.S. market, largely driven by Hyundai’s Sonata and Kia’s K5 sedans.
The midsize market used to be dominated by Japanese cars such as Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord.
Until 2011, Hyundai stood at fourth with 13.1 percent market share, following Toyota’s 19.2 percent, Honda’s 16.6 percent and Nissan’s 13.4 percent.
Adding to enhanced product quality of its flagship Sonata and K5 sedans, their U.S. production is helping the carmaker better respond to the soaring demands there, Hyundai officials said.
Sales momentum in the midsize segment is also expected to improve profitability for Hyundai, which is still more known for manufacturing cheaper, smaller models.
“It is meaningful that Hyundai and Kia topped the segment in the U.S., one of the most competitive markets,” said a Hyundai official. “We will continue sales growth centering on the Sonata and K5 models there.”
Last year U.S. auto sales increased 13.5 percent to nearly 14.5 million new vehicles, the best performance since 2007.
Hyundai and Kia sold a combined 1.26 million cars, up 11 percent from 2011. Their market share stood at sixth, next to the “Detroit Three” ― Ford, General Motors and Chrysler ― and Japan’s Toyota and Honda.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org