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HYUNDAI-KIA: Finding strength in small cars

Interest in Hyundai’s larger sedans plunged in January, with sales of the Sonata down 48 percent to 7,894 and the Azera down 32 percent to 278 units.

LOS ANGELES — Korea’s automakers posted a 1.4 percent drop in combined U.S. volume for January as Hyundai’s sales gains weren’t enough to offset a slipping Kia.

The Hyundai and Genesis brands had a record January, selling 46,507 vehicles overall, a 3.3 percent increase from a year earlier.

Gains were spread across Hyundai’s small cars and trucks, including the subcompact Accent (up 40 percent to 7,062 sales), the compact Elantra (up 33 percent to 13,185) and the Santa Fe crossover models (up 54 percent to 7,889).

Interest in Hyundai’s larger sedans plunged, with the Sonata down 48 percent to 7,894 sales and the Azera down 32 percent to 278 units.

Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

Hyundai’s January performance showed that its car-truck mix is moving in the right direction — 71 percent cars for Hyundai and Genesis vs. 77 percent a year earlier — though still not where the rest of the industry is, about 60 percent trucks.

Kia’s sales dropped 7 percent to 35,626, with only the Forte compact-car family showing life. It was up 18 percent to 6,267 sales.

Kia’s light-truck sales slipped 8.3 percent to 12,382, while its cars fell 6.3 percent to 23,244.

Both Hyundai and Kia dialed up incentive spending in January. Hyundai averaged $2,602 per unit, up 37 percent from a year earlier, according to ALG estimates, while Kia spent $3,411 per vehicle, up 21 percent. Both still ranked lower than the industry average of $3,635 spent per vehicle.

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