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Automakers See September Gains

Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America and Irvine’s Kia Motors America Inc. bucked August declines in sales to lead local automakers with big gains in September.

Hyundai, part of South Korea’s Hyundai Kia Automotive Group., saw a 48% gain from a year earlier to 46,556 vehicles sold in September.

For the 12 months through September, Hyundai, the largest automaker with operations here, sold 410,047 vehicles, up 20%.

The automaker’s new Sonata sedan is selling as fast as the company’s Alabama plant can produce it with 20,639 sold last month, up 61% from a year before.

“September’s growth was led by a 161% sales increase by our game-changing 2011 Sonata and all-time volume record for Genesis,” said Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of sales at Hyundai.

Sister company Kia saw an uptick in sales with 30,071 vehicles sold last month, up 39% from a year earlier.

For the 12 months through September, Kia sold 268,024 vehicles, up 12.3%.

Hyundai and Kia were the stars of the auto industry’s recent downturn, the worst since the 1970s.

The two brands have seen sales and market share gains in the past year as their affordable vehicles proved a good fit with the downturn.

Automakers across the board saw an uptick last month leading many to believe the industry’s recovery is well under way.

September’s gains reversed declines in August from a year earlier, when the government’s “cash for clunkers” program still was in effect.

Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations, part of Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp., saw a 30.5% gain last month to 18,580 in vehicle sales.

For the 12 months through September, sales were up 9% to 174,770 autos.

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America, part of Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corp., was up 5% to 4,961 autos sold in September.

Brea-based American Suzuki Motor Corp. continued its slump with a 12% drop to September sales of 1,641 vehicles.

The automaker, part of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp., has been one of the hardest hit in the industry with sales through July down 49% to 16,972 autos.

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