S. Korean car sales down 4.6 pct in September

SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean auto sales inched down 4.6 percent in September from a year earlier due to reduced working days and partial strikes of two major carmakers amid the prolonged economic slowdown, data showed Tuesday.

The combined sales of five carmakers in the country led by industry leader Hyundai Motor Co. came in at 642,132 units last month, compared with 673,285 vehicles sold a year ago, according to the aggregate data released by the five carmakers.

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

The data showed that the combined domestic sales fell 12.8 percent on-year to 101,021 units and overseas sales dipped 2.9 percent to 541,111 units.

Hyundai said it sold 363,970 vehicles in September, compared with 371,743 units in the same month in 2012, the company said in a statement.

The company attributed the drop in monthly sales to partial strikes and a decline in the number of working days in September due to the three-day Chuseok holiday, the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving.

Kia Motors, South Korea's second-biggest automaker, said it sold 193,671 vehicles last month, compared with 214,379 units in September of 2012.

The sales figure is the worst since August 2012 when Kia sold 190,870 units.

Last month, union members of Hyundai and Kia endorsed separate wage deals after staging days of partial strikes that cost the two carmakers combined 1.4 trillion won (US$1.3 billion) in lost production.

Hyundai and Kia are the two major flagship units of Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest automaker.

GM Korea, the local unit of U.S. automaker General Motors Co., said that its sales dipped 4.1 percent on-year to 62,852 vehicles.

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