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O.C. automakers report mixed January sales

Hyundai, Kia come out on top following year-end clearances

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: February 01, 2013 03:45 PM

With new model-year and redesigned vehicles arriving on the market, dealerships are anxious to make deals on existing inventory. Local automakers reported a solid January on the heels of a report from Kelley Blue Book that predicted total national sales to improve by 13 percent. In fact, U.S. auto sales topped 1 million vehicles last month, a 14.2 percent year-over-year increase in sales.

Costa Mesa-based Hyundai Motor America, the top-selling O.C.-based brand, had a good January with sales increasing 2.4 percent over the same period last year. A total of 43,713 vehicles were sold during the month, marking the company’s highest sales for the month of January. Most popular models during the month were the Sonata and Elantra.

"We've got a solid foundation going into the new year," said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America’s president and CEO.  "We've got a great line-up of vehicles and we're looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday when we'll share with upwards of 110 million viewers our all-new Santa Fe, our premium Genesis sedan and the surprising Sonata 2.0T."

Kia Motors America, the Irvine-based up-and-coming brand that has been gaining in market share in leaps and bounds, also reported a solid start to the year, with 36,302 vehicles rolling off the lots in January. The figure represents a 2.2 percent increase over the same time in 2012. The Optima and Sorento CUV made up more than 53 percent of the month’s sales, the sixth consecutive month that the two models have dominated the sales floor.

"January's record performance comes on the heels of the historic sales milestones Kia achieved in 2012 and signals the beginning of an aggressive launch cadence that will deliver a collection of new cars and CUVs, fulfilling our promise to advance value to new levels of sophistication," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, the brand’s U.S. manufacturing plant.

Mazda North American Operations reported a total of 21,319 vehicles sold during the month, a hefty decline of 11.2 percent over the same month in 2012. The Irvine-based brand has been seeing some highs and lows over the past few years; over the past six months, Mazda has had three months when sales were up, and three months when sales declined over the same period a year before. Still, December’s sales saw a year-over-year increase of almost 22 percent, and the company reported it was the best close to the year since 1994.

Last month’s total sales for Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America declined by 1 percent compared to January 2012, but the company tempered the news with the report that all its major models did show year-over-year sales increases. The Outlander Sport CUV topped the list, with a 21 percent increase in sales compared to the same month last year, its fifth consecutive month of increasing numbers. The company did not provide monthly sales figures for other models.

As American Suzuki Motor Corporation prepares to wrap up its U.S. automotive sales unit, dealers across the country are selling off existing models and inventory. January’s sales for the Brea-based automaker amounted to 1,488 vehicles, just 17 autos or about 1 percent less, than the same period last year. Suzuki announced Nov. 5 that the Japanese automaker would discontinue automotive sales in the U.S., with the goal of redirecting its focus on the brand’s Motorcycle/ATV and Marine products divisions.


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