Hyundai Passes Ford As World's Fourth Largest Automaker

Posted: August 19, 2009

Hyundai is having a good year.  The Korean automaker won its first North American Car of the Year award with its Genesis sedan, and its new Genesis Coupe won the company praise from the automotive enthusiast press for the first time.  As Americans bought fewer cars, the company managed to avoid the catastrophic sales drop many rivals saw, largely thanks to creative incentives like its Assurance Plus program (which allowed buyers to return their new car if they lost their income in the recession).  Even its inexpensive Kia division won good press, with its new Soul wagon and Forte small car impressing most reviewers.

Now, the payoff is clear. Motor Trend reports, “Hyundai-Kia has passed Ford as the fourth-largest automaker in the world by outselling the Blue Oval gang in the first half of 2009.”  At the end of last year, “Hyundai-Kia was trailing Ford by roughly 1 million annual sales. As of the halfway point in 2009, though, Hyundai-Kia outsold Ford by 8,000 units with 2.153 million sales globally to Ford's 2.145 million.” 

Autoblog notes, however, “These numbers count the Nissan-Renault Alliance as two separate units, with 1.5 million and 1.1 million units respectively, but if combined they'd knock Hyundai (as well as Ford) out of position with over 2.6 million units.”

Hyundai would need a very successful year to continue to climb the chart.  Motor Trend notes, “As of the midway point, Hyundai-Kia trailed third-place automaker Volkswagen by nearly 1 million sales.”

A closer look at the numbers shows that General Motors is also on the way up.  Knocked off its perch as the world’s largest automaker just two years ago, second-place GM now trails Toyota by just 12,000 vehicles.  Jalopnik notes, “last year at this time, Toyota was ahead by over 200,000 units. Whereas GM sales are down 21.8%, Toyota's are down 26.0%. With six months to go GM is now increasing production” at several plants to meet demand driven by the Cash for Clunkers rebate program.  Jalopnik wonders, “Could we be in for a photo finish?”

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