If Car Sales are a Civil War, Korean Automakers were William T. Sherman Last Month

By Jacob Brown | April 04, 2012
If you don't know who William T. Sherman was, he was a general of the Union Army during the Civil War who helped coin the term "Total War," pillaging every Confederate city in his path until he reached Georgia. It's a somewhat appropriate analogy, as Kia shares its largest North American manufacturing facility with Hyundai in Georgia, and both went on a sales tear last month, posting record gains. In fact, Hyundai led with a record 69,728 vehicles sold last month, 13 percent more than last March. Kia's smaller feat may be just as impressive, however, as it posted its first above-50,000-unit month in the U.S.—ever. That's right, with 57,505 vehicles sold in March, Kia broke its best sales records from even summer months when more cars usually sell. Kia's sales are currently 31.8 percent higher through the first quarter of 2012 than they were this time last year. Here's how it all breaks down: Hyundai's Winners
  • All-new models like the redesigned Hyundai Accent and Veloster showed the strongest gains with the new Accent posting a 45-percent gain and the Veloster finding 3,848 new homes last month.
  • Hyundai's premium products, the rear-wheel-drive Genesis coupe and sedan and the Equus full-size luxury car had a 30-percent sales increase over last March, combining for 3,781 cars.
  • All other models posted modest sales increases over last year's figures except...
Hyundai's Losers
  • It's hard to imagine Hyundai had any losers in a record month, but the Azera sold a piddly 128 units in its last month before being replaced with an all-new model.
  • And Hyundai's compact and large crossovers, the Tucson and Veracruz, lost some ground compared to this time last year when gas was a lot cheaper.
Kia's Winners
  • The redesigned 2012 Kia Rio isn't getting any national advertising like other Kia models, but it led with the biggest percentage sales increase, more than doubling last March's number with 4,509 cars sold.
  • Kia also broke the 10,000-unit mark with three separate vehicles for the first time, the midsize Optima sedan, midsize Sorento crossover, and compact Kia Soul.
  • Even the six-year-old Kia Sedona minivan picked up sales, scoring a 14-percent increase over last year.
Kia's Losers
  • The Kia Sportage compact crossover has fallen 23 percent. Time for a refresh?
  • Kia's second-best-selling vehicle, the midsize Sorento crossover, has slipped in sales and become its third-best-selling model. It still found over 10,000 new owners last month. Kia marketers have to be losing some sleep with three five-figure sellers instead of two now.
Source: Hyundai, Kia Motors