Orange County Business Journal

OC Automakers End Year With Bang

Kari Hamanaka Thursday, January 5, 2012

Orange County's two largest automakers ended 2011 with strong December sales as an industrywide recovery continued to gain strength.

Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America Inc., the largest automaker with operations here, saw December sales up 13% from a year earlier to 50,765.

Hyundai, part of South Korea-based Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, ended the year up 20% from 2010, with 645,691 vehicles sole.

Hyundai’s sister company, Irvine-based Kia Motors America Inc., saw the largest year-over-year percentage gain in December compared with other OC automakers.

Kia sales last month were up 42.5% to 43,390 vehicles.

The automaker sold 485,492 vehicles last year, up 36% from 2010.

Kia and Hyundai both set new sales records thanks in part to vehicle redesigns and generous warranties to draw buyers.

The local automakers' December and 2011 sales mirror the industrywide recovery taking place nationally.

U.S. auto sales in December were up nearly 9% from 2010 to 1.2 million vehicles, according to industry researcher Motor Intelligence, part of Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based Autodata Corp.

U.S. automakers ended the full year up 10.3% from 2010.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate—an industry measure of the annualized selling rate—topped 13.6 million in December. That's the highest the rate had ever been in 2011 and suggests the positive sales momentum will continue this year.

Other OC-based also reported sales gains for the month.

Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations sold 22,353 vehicles in December, up 4.1% from a year earlier.

Mazda's sales for the year were up 9.1%, to 250,426 vehicles.

Mitsubishi Motors North America in Cypress recorded a 3.2% increase in December vehicle sales to 5,032.

The automaker’s sales for the year increased about 42% from 2010, to nearly 80,000 vehicles.

Anaheim-based luxury hybrid automaker Fisker Automotive Inc. declined to disclose its 2011 sales.

The automaker began deliveries of its debut model, the Karma, late last year. A company spokesman said the company had more than 1,500 cars either shipped or on the production line at the end of last year.

Brea-based American Suzuki Motor Corp. was the only local automaker to see sales fall in December, a 3% dip to 2,566 vehicles for the month.

Suzuki saw an 11% gain for the whole year, with 26,619 vehicles sold.