Orange County Business Journal

Automakers See May Sales Gains

Kari Hamanaka Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Orange County automakers continued to see strong sales gains in May even as the momentum throughout the rest of the auto industry slowed on fewer supplies and higher prices.

Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America Inc., the largest automaker with operations here, continued to post strong sales gains in May.

Hyundai, part of Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, sold 59,214 vehicle in May, up 21% from a year earlier.

Sales in California have been highest for Hyundai, up 95% for the first five months of the year compared with the same period last year.

In May Hyundai introduced a new version of its Hyundai Assurance warranty program that now includes a guaranteed trade-in value.

The company cited the refreshed warranty program as a factor in helping its May sales.

“Consumer response to the Assurance Trade-In Value Guarantee program has been terrific,” said Hyundai Chief Executive John Krafcik. “It's already driving a much higher level of consideration and brand lift than our original Assurance job-loss program, and is a key factor in our on-going retail sales strength.”

Hyundai sister company Kia Motors America Inc. in Irvine reported its best monthly sales increase in May.

Kia sold 48,212 vehicles in May, up 44.8% from a year earlier.

Sales of the Kia Sorento sport utility vehicle once again drove sales for the month with 11,936 sold, up about 46% from a year earlier.

May sales slowed for the U.S. auto industry just as some industry watchers had predicted earlier in the year as a result of tighter supplies and higher vehicle prices.

Total May U.S. auto sales fell for the first time since last August by 4%.

Most local automakers bucked the national trend.

American Suzuki Motor Corp. in Brea reported a 20% increase in May vehicle sales from a year earlier to 2,290.

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America's May sales were also up by nearly 60% from a year earlier to 7,568 vehicles.

Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations was the only automaker with operations here to see a decline in monthly sales compared to a year earlier.

Mazda sold 17,875 vehicles in May, down about 21% from a year earlier.

Sales of the Mazda CX-7 and CX-9 crossover sport utility vehicles fell about 20% and 17%, respectively, breaking a five-month streak in sales increases.