SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. aim to sell about 7 million vehicles globally next year, versus more than 6.5 million this year, the president of Hyundai said.
Hyundai and Kia, which together rank fifth in global auto sales, have been stellar performers even during the global economic downturn, gaining market share from Japanese and U.S. rivals, as their affordable models have appealed to cost-conscious consumers.
But the South Korean firms see rapid volume growth softening because of limited manufacturing capacity that keeps them from boosting output sharply to meet demand.
"We aim to sell about 7 million vehicles next year. We expect to reach (the target) should we run our factories at full capacity," Chung Jin-haeng told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that the sales target has not been finalized.
He did not give a breakdown on the sales goals for Hyundai and Kia.
He also said Hyundai and Kia expected to beat their already-upgraded 2011 sales targets of 6.5 million vehicles, anticipating sales of up to 6.6 million this year.
Suh Sung-moon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities, said the 2012 target appeared to be conservative, saying Hyundai and Kia would continue to surpass their earlier targets next year.
"I expect Hyundai and Kia will be able to achieve sales of 7.2 million vehicles next year, with Hyundai's China plant starting production and Kia introducing a third shift at its Slovakia plant," he said.
Hyundai and Kia said in January that they aimed to boost combined vehicle sales by 10 percent to 6.33 million this year.
European sales forecast
Last month, the two automakers said they expected their combined sales in Europe to grow 12.4 percent this year, exceeding forecasts despite economic problems in the region.
Hyundai plans to sell 405,000 vehicles in Europe this year, higher than its earlier target of 400,000, the automaker said. Kia is projecting sales of 293,000, compared with its previous goal of 285,000.
In the first nine months, Hyundai's European sales (excluding Russia) rose 11.2 percent to 304,540 cars, making it the No. 3-selling Asian brand in the region, according to figures from industry association ACEA. Kia was the No. 4 among Asian brands in Europe with 213,433 sales, a rise of 7.2 percent over the same period last year.
Sources: Reuters with contributions from David Jolley