Hyundai Motor’s First-Half China Sales Slump 8.5%

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Hyundai Motor Co.’s deliveries in China slumped 8.5 percent in the first half of this year, the latest foreign carmaker to report slowing demand in the world’s largest vehicle market.

The South Korean automaker sold 513,784 vehicles in China in the first six months of this year, according to an e-mail from the company. Excluding imports, sales last fell in the second half of 2007, when deliveries slumped 24 percent.

Hyundai joins Volkswagen, which also counts China as its biggest market by volume, in reporting declining sales in the once surging market. Hampered by a strong currency and portfolio of mostly sedans when consumers are favoring sport utility vehicles, the South Korean carmaker is responding by cutting costs and production.

“Hyundai didn’t have enough SUVs and seems to have been slow in increasing incentives in China,” said Lee Sang Hyun, an analyst at IBK Securities Co. “You can say that the company’s share performance this year hinges on how well Hyundai recovers sales in China in the coming months.”

The company’s shares declined 1.5 percent to 131,000 won at the close in Seoul trading. The benchmark Kospi index fell 0.9 percent.

Hyundai is scheduled to report second-quarter results on Thursday.

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