Hyundai Posts First China Sales Drop Since 2007 on Shift to SUVs

Hyundai Motor Co. posted its first annual sales drop in China since 2007 as a slowing economy and shift in consumer preferences to cheap sport utility vehicles hurt demand for its sedan-heavy lineup.

Deliveries fell 5.1 percent to 1.06 million vehicles last year, the company said in a statement. Toyota Motor Corp. surpassed the South Korean automaker in China, after boosting sales 8.7 percent to 1.12 million units.

Hyundai Chairman Chung Mong Koo said this week that he expects demand in China, the company’s largest market by volume, to stay weak as economic growth remains sluggish in 2016. The company plans to introduce a hybrid version of the Sonata sedan this year.

SUV sales have led gains this year at the expense of traditional sedans as consumers in China favored roomier and higher-riding automobiles. Local Chinese brands have also pushed out cheaper alternatives, taking market share from global carmakers and their higher-priced models.

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