SEOUL-- A ship headed to Europe carrying 3,222 Hyundai Motor Co. Kia Motors new vehicles and about 1,000 Japanese used cars sank minutes before midnight on Saturday off Singapore's Sentosa Island, Hyundai Motor said on Monday.
Hyundai had 1,058 units of the Click and Avante XD, small-sized passenger cars, and the Santa Fe SUV on the carrier. Kia was shipping 2,164 units of the Morning and Rio small passenger cars, the Carnival minivan and the Sorento SUV.
The Korean and Japanese cars were on the Swedish-Norwegian car carrier named MV Hyundai No. 105, manufactured by Eukor Car Carrier. The ship collided with the Panamanian-registered MT Kaminesan carrying 280,000 metric tons of crude oil, Hyundai Motor said. No injuries were reported.
It is the first time Hyundai and Kia have lost its cargo at sea. Hyundai Motor spokesman Jake Jang said the two automakers "will not incur any losses from the accident because they are fully covered by insurance." He said Hyundai and Kia Motors have inventories for two months and half a month in Europe respectively.
The carrier was heading for Germany after leaving Korea on May 16. Last year, Hyundai sold 270,065 cars in Europe -- primarily in Britan, Italy and Germany -- thanks in large part to strong sales of the super mini car Getz. Kia Motors sold 156,600 vehicles on soaring sales of the Sorento and Rio in 2003. Europe is the second largest market for both Hyundai and Kia after the United States.
Hyundai and Kia control more than 70 percent of South Korean auto market. Hyundai has recently ended its five-year troubled alliance with DaimlerChrysler as they failed to narrow down the differences over strategic objectives, especially in the emerging Chinese market.
Hyundai Motor seeks to become one of the top five global automakers by 2010.