April car sales at South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co rose from a year ago, led by strong overseas sales and revamped versions of its popular Sonata sedan and Tucson SUV, but increased competition hit domestic sales.
Hyundai, South Korea's top automaker, was the only local brand posting a monthly decrease in domestic sales in April, as smaller rivals including Renault Samsung and troubled Ssangyong offered zero-interest financing for up to three years to lure back customers.
Hyundai shares hit a fresh record high of 138,000 won on Monday but its weak domestic performance pushed the stock down as much as 2.6 per cent before it closed 1.8 per cent lower.
Competition in its home market should increase further as GM Daewoo, a unit of General Motors, is set to introduce the Chevrolet brand in South Korea and foreign cars are gaining ground on more affordable prices.
Hyundai sold 310,396 vehicles in April, versus the year earlier's 243,343 units and 319,553 units a month before.
By the end of April, it achieved a third of its 2010 annual sales target of 3.46 million units, a 12 per cent increase from last year.
That compared with Honda's forecast last week of 6.6 per cent sales growth to 3.6 million vehicles this year.
While carmakers have been benefiting from a recovery in US sales and the global economy, the strengthening won is a headache for Hyundai as it competes with Japanese rivals such as Toyota and Honda in the key US market.
Hyundai's strong performance in emerging economies and growing US market share drove it to a record net profit in the first three months of 2010.
Hyundai's affiliate Kia Motors Corp posted a 49 per cent jump in April sales to 174,580 vehicles from a year before, driven by new Sportage and Sorento R SUV models.