FRANKFURT – Hyundai and its affiliate Kia posted huge gains in the stagnant German car market in January, Europe's largest, according to data from Germany's motor vehicle authority KBA.
The two Korean brands, which have invested heavily in their styling and design, combined for a 2.4 percentage point gain in European market share over last January.
Hyundai's new vehicle registrations jumped by half, while Kia's more than doubled last month, giving them a combined 5.5 percent of the market.
German sales of Hyundai in January totaled 7,482 units, a rise of 51.1 percent over 2011. Kia sold 4,059 cars in the same period, a rise of 132.1 percent.
The larger of the two, Hyundai, with 3.6 percent of the market, was more popular in January than rival brands Nissan, Fiat, Peugeot, Toyota and even Citroen, which came the closest at 2.9 percent.
Excluding Ford, the only import brand that surpassed Hyundai was Renault, though KBA did not provide figures that adjusted for the inclusion of the Renault group's Dacia brand, which is targeted at the lower end of the market.
Luxury brands Audi and Mercedes-Benz, whose individual market shares dwarf most volume brands in Germany, also enjoyed healthy gains as BMW suffered ahead of this month's relaunch of its best-selling 3 series.
Data from KBA revealed a poor performance for many other brands including Renault , GM's Opel, Nissan, Peugeot and Toyota, which all saw new registrations fall between 8 and 17 percent.
Even the Volkswagen marque saw demand slip 2.3 percent in January, more than the 0.4 percent drop recorded for the overall market. Nonetheless, almost one in four newly registered vehicles in Germany sported a VW logo on the grille.
Economists at Barclays Capital calculated Germany's car market declined by 3.6 percent when adjusted for seasonal and working-day effects, putting its annual rate of 3.15 million about 6 percent off the long-term average.
"We see scope for the German car market to remain in positive territory, but admittedly this will depend on the speed at which the euro area sovereign debt crisis is resolved," Barclays wrote in a research note.
Domestic vehicle production, a key barometer of economic output and a future driver of employment, increased 12 percent to 445,000 cars, according to figures from the German auto industry lobby VDA.
Sources: Reuters; Automotive News Europe