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HYUNDAI-KIA: Sales slide ebbing as crossover mix improves

Hyundai-Kia's combined U.S. sales in 2018 slipped 0.6 percent to 1.27 million as the automaker continued to work toward aligning its product mix to American consumers' tastes. The slight decline in 2018 follows a 10 percent slump in 2017. The automaker had a strong finish to the year, with sales in December up 6.1 percent to 113,149.

For 2018, Hyundai Motor America's sales slid 1.1 percent to 677,945, as sales of Hyundai-brand vehicles edged up 0.4 percent to 667,634, but were offset by a 50 percent plunge for Genesis sales to 10,312.

In December, Hyundai Motor America's sales rose 3.3 percent to 65,721, marking the best December in the company's history. Sales of Hyundai-brand vehicles were up 5.6 percent to 65,107. Genesis, which shipped its last 2018 models in March as it sought licensing for the brand in each state, was down 68 percent in December from the year-earlier period, with 614 deliveries.

Also in December, Hyundai's retail crossover sales mix reached an all-time high of 53 percent. The Tucson set a monthly record for the 22nd month in a row, posting a 32 percent increase. The Kona hit its highest monthly total since going on sale in February, with 8,319 units sold in December.

For the full year, Kia Motors America's sales were flat at 589,673 units. The Kia Sportage posted a 14 percent rise for its best-ever annual sales of 82,823 units. Kia's Forte, Optima and Soul all sold more than 100,000 units for a third consecutive year, however all three nameplates also had annual declines from 2017. The Sorento, with an 8.2 percent gain, also topped 100,000 last year.

In December, the Kia brand posted a 10 percent increase in sales to 47,428 vehicles. The outgoing version of the Soul led sales in terms of volume, with 10,128 deliveries, for a rise of 33 percent.

Brands: For December, Hyundai up 5.6%, Kia up 10%. For 2018, Hyundai up 0.4%, Kia flat. Genesis sales down 68% in December, down 50% for 2018.

2018 U.S. light-vehicle market share: 7.3 percent vs.7.4 percent in 2017.

Notable nameplates: For December, Tucson up 32%; Santa Fe down 14%; Elantra down 29%; Forte down 2.7%; Sportage up 25%; Soul up 33%. For 2018, Tucson up 24%; Santa Fe down 12%; Elantra up 1.1%; Forte down 13%; Sportage up 14%; Soul down 10%.

Incentives: For Hyundai, $2,548 per vehicle, down 18% from a year earlier, ALG says. For Kia, $3,329 per vehicle, down 3.4%.

Average transaction price: For Hyundai, $22,792, up 1.7% from a year earlier, according to ALG. For Kia, $22,827, down 0.1%.

Quote: "Hyundai had a strong close to the year, setting our December sales total record and increasing retail sales for the year," John Cook, director of sales operations for Hyundai Motor America, said in a release. "In 2018 we focused on reinventing and expanding our SUV lineup and customers responded in the second half of the year with SUV retail mix exceeding 50 percent for the first time in December. These vehicles, along with our diverse car lineup put us in a position to pick up market share in 2019."

Did you know? In December, Hyundai set record for light-truck sales in a month with 35,058 of them sold in the U.S., a 42 percent jump from December 2017.