Hyundai Motor-profitability

SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo pledged Friday to ramp up efforts to boost its profitability and the brand value of vehicles as he laid out plans to make his companies leading global carmakers.

Currently, Hyundai Motor Group is the world's fifth-largest carmaker as Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's top automaker, and its sister company Kia Motors Corp. have boosted their market share around the world in recent years.

"We will maintain the position of a leading global company by renovating our brand through quality," Chung said in an annual general meeting of shareholders at the company's headquarters in southern Seoul.

Last year, Hyundai ranked 53rd with a brand value of US$7.5 billion at the Best Global Brands released by the international branding consultancy Interbrand Corp. Hyundai finished ahead of other global carmaking brands including Audi, Porsche and Nissan.

Kia also ranked 87th with a brand value of $4.09 billion. It was the first time for the carmaker to move into the top 100 in brand value.

Chung said he will ensure that improved brand image will help strengthen profitability of cars sold around the world.

Hyundai's profitability rose last year, almost matching that of global premium car brand BMW AG, according to industry data.

Hyundai Motor posted an overall operating margin of 11.08 percent in the January-September period last year with the figure for its car-producing division reaching 10.91 percent.

Hyundai's numbers compare with BMW's overall operating profit margin of 11.38 percent and the 10.94 percent for its automobile segment.

A key measure of a company's profitability, the operating margin refers to operating income divided by net sales.

Chung also told shareholders that he will strengthen efforts to boost sales in China as Hyundai prepares to increase its dealers in the world's largest auto market to 860 from the current 802.

"We will expand our influence in the Chinese market that shows signs of consistent growth," Chung said.

Hyundai's market share stood at 6.7 percent in China last year while Kia maintained a 3.8 percent market share.

Chung also vowed to increase output of vehicles in key plants around the world, including Brazil.

Hyundai has assembly plants in China, the United States, India, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Brazil and Russia. Meanwhile, Kia has plants in China, the U.S. and Slovakia.

A combined annual production capacity at Hyundai and Kia overseas plants reach 3.69 million vehicles, compared with 3.5 million units at their plants in South Korea.

Hyundai set a sales target of 4.66 million cars this year, compared with 4.41 million units sold in 2012.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>