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O.C. automakers continue positive growth

Almost all brands report increases in sales ahead of midyear reporting period

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: June 04, 2012 11:15 AM

Orange County’s auto manufacturers continue to be a driving force in both the local and national economy. This past month was no exception, as four of the five local brands reported year-over-year increases in sales volume for the month.

Irvine-based Kia Motors America continued its long-running winning streak, with 51,771 vehicles sold during the month. The figure represents a 7.4 percent increase over last year’s May sales, another high-grossing month of sales adding to the automaker’s growing popularity.

The brand also broke a significant milestone last month. Kia first entered the U.S. auto market in 1994, and with increasing gas prices in recent years, the automaker has enjoyed a growing popularity due to its range of designs and high fuel economy. In May, the brand sold its 4 millionth vehicle in the U.S. The brand currently has two models manufactured in the country: the Optima and the Sorento CUV, which a built at the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia plant (KMMG).  

"Kia has experienced dramatic growth over the past few years, and our record-breaking momentum continues as we gather industry-wide recognition for reliability, low cost of ownership, increased residual values and outstanding brand loyalty," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and KMMG.  

Hyundai Motor America, based in Costa Mesa, sold a total of 67,019 vehicles during the month, an increase of 13 percent over the same period last year.

Whereas Kia may be flaunting its higher sales numbers and growing market share, Hyundai has earned its place in the industry as the most fuel efficient brand. Earlier this year, Hyundai was ranked the best for fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions on the 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Fuel Economy Trends Report. Last month, the car models sold average 37 miles per gallon, which translates to a "real-road use" value of 28.5 miles per gallon.

Orange County’s third-largest automaker, Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations, reported its national May sales of 20,357 vehicles, an increase of 13.9 percent over last year’s May sales. Among the most popular models for the month were the all-new 2013 Mazda CX-5, named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and the Mazda6.

Mitsubishi Motors North America, headquartered in Cypress, reported auto sales of 5,575 vehicles in May, a decline of 26 percent from the same time last year. Still, the volume sales figure represents the brand’s second-best monthly sales since September 2011.  

MMNA president and CEO Yoichi Yokozawa explained that current year-over-year sales figures are impacted by the end of availability for certain Mitsubishi models whose production ended in the summer of 2011. He said the trend is likely to continue for several more months.

Mitsubishi i sales continue to grow every month,” Yokozawa said, referring to the brand’s new all-electric plug-in vehicle, “and we are looking forward to next month, when we will transition to domestic production in Normal, Illinois, of our Outlander Sport."

Brea-based American Suzuki’s national May auto sales came in at 2,360 vehicles, an increase of 3 percent over May 2011 numbers. Gains were driven by increases in sales of the Grand Vitara, which increased 25 percent year-over-year, and the Equator.

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