S. Korean car sales rise 3.7 pct in June on brisk oversea shipments

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean auto sales rose 3.7 percent in June from a year earlier as overseas shipments gained ground, weathering the global economic slowdown and currency volatility, industry data showed Monday.

The combined sales of industry leader Hyundai Motor Co. and four other automakers came in at 732,642 units last month, compared with 706,527 units sold the previous year, according to the data.

The other four automakers are Hyundai's smaller sister company Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co.

In the first half, their combined sales reached 4.36 million units, up 5.6 percent from the previous year.

The data showed that the accumulative domestic sales fell 8.07 percent on-year to 113,440 units in June, while overseas sales rose 6.19 percent to 619,202 units.

Brisk overseas sales posted by Hyundai Motor Co. and its sister company Kia Motors overshadowed slumps in domestic vehicle sales, indicating that Korean automakers fared well even in the face of the yen's slide and the global economic slowdown.

Currency volatility is one of the main setbacks picked by local manufacturers in doing business, according to a separate data by the central bank.

The won has fallen about 6.7 percent against the U.S. dollar so far this year, but the local currency has appreciated around 7 percent per the yen. Korean automakers are tightly vying with Japanese rivals in overseas markets.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors saw their domestic sales decline last month as unionized workers at several of their assembly lines boycotted weekend shifts, causing a supply squeeze in the domestic market.

Hyundai Motor said its total sales rose 8.2 percent on-year to 404,368 units in June, but its domestic sales declined 7 percent on-year to 55,548 units in the cited period.

Kia Motors, South Korea's No. 2 automaker, said that it reported a 2 percent rise in sales to 236,992 units in June, but its domestic sales declined 10.5 percent on-year to 37,700 units.

Hyundai and Kia are the flagship companies of Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest automotive group.

GM Korea Co., the local unit of U.S. automaker General Motors Co., said it sold 70,237 vehicles in June, down 10 percent from the previous year.

Ssangyong Motor Co., the local unit of Indian sport utility vehicle maker Mahindra