WRAPUP 1-Japan new car sales slide; Hyundai hit by strike

* Japan monthly new vehicle sales sees worst drop for Nov

* Hyundai Motor Nov sales up 1.4 pct

* Hundai considers factory shutdown as strike prolongs

* Maruti sales jump; faces pressure from Toyota Etios

* Europe woes hurt Maruti exports, may hit Japan autos

By Hyunjoo Jin and Chang-Ran Kim

SEOUL/TOKYO, Dec 1 (BestGrowthStock) – South Korea’s top auto
brand Hyundai faced a prolonged strike at its biggest factory,
and car sales in Japan slumped for the third straight month as
the deepening European debt crisis threatened the outlook for
global sales.

The euro zone’s troubles add to the woes of Japanese
automakers, which are in for a sharp, long drop in domestic
vehicle sales after the government’s subsidies on some
fuel-efficient vehicles ended in September.

In India, top car maker Maruti Suzuki reported a
28 percent rise in November sales, but exports fell 12 percent
with most of those cars bound for Europe.

Excluding 660cc minivehicles, sales in Japan sank 30.7
percent to 203,246 units last month, marking the biggest fall
on record for November, despite an extra selling day compared
with the year before. Top-ranked Toyota Motor’s sales
fell 35 percent while Honda Motor’s dropped 38 percent.

“There’s no sense that sales have hit a bottom,” said
Michiro Saito, general manager at the Japan Automobile Dealers
Association.

Including minivehicles, which get preferential tax
treatment and are compiled separately, vehicle sales in Japan
dropped 26 percent in November.

STRIKE HITS HYUNDAI

Hyundai Motor , South Korea’s biggest
automaker, fared better but also reported a 13 percent fall in
its domestic market partly due to difficult comparisons from a
year ago.

Its global sales rose 1.4 percent to 314,569 units,
however, as it further outpaced rivals in Europe and other
major markets.

Growing concerns over the European debt crisis may hit
overseas sales in the next few months but analysts said Korean
automakers were set to outperform the market thanks to new
models, competitive compact cars and a weak local currency.

“Hyundai and Kia plan to launch a series of new cars next
year (in Europe) and that will help them outperform the
market,” said Lee Sang-hyun, an analyst at NH Investment &
Securities.

One worry is the strike — now in its third week — at
Hyundai’s biggest local production base, in Ulsan.
Subcontracted workers have occupied the factory since Nov. 15
demanding the automaker give them permanent positions, hitting
output and sales of its popular subcompact cars such as the
Verna and Accent.

Hyundai warned on Wednesday it was seriously considering
shutting down the affected plant in Ulsan, refusing to
negotiate in what it calls an illegal strike.

It said the industrial action had caused a production loss
of about 220 billion won ($190 million) so far.

Hyundai shares, however, jumped nearly 4 percent as the
company’s almost flat growth in November sales was better than
most had feared.

“The strike will not have a major impact on its revenue
because the affected plant produces (cheaper) subcompact
models, and the South Korean currency remains favourable,” Suh
Sung-moon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities, said.

Hyundai affiliate Kia Motors fared far better,
with a 33 percent jump in November sales to a record 222,116
units helped by strong sales of new models such as K5 sedan
and Sportage R SUV.

Overall sales at India’s Maruti Suzuki, 54.2 percent owned
by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp rose strongly, but the
firm is also trying to boost exports to non-European nations.

“The euro zone crisis could affect sales of Maruti Suzuki,
which has some exposure to that market, and it is now trying
to sell to non-European countries,” said Umesh Karne, a
research analyst at Brics Securities in Mumbai.

The car maker is seeing rising competition from global
automakers such as Nissan and Toyota in the fast-growing
Indian market.

On Wednesday, Toyota began taking orders for the Etios
compact sedan, developed specifically for the Indian market. A
hatchback version will be launched next April, and Toyota
confirmed it was targeting sales of 70,000 units for the Etios
line in 2011.
($1=1155.7 Won)
(Additional reporting by Bharghavi Nagaraju in Bangalore and
Tanmaya Nanda in Mumbai; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

WRAPUP 1-Japan new car sales slide; Hyundai hit by strike