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Hyundai reports lower monthly sales as coronavirus decreases demand

Hyundai Motor reported its lowest monthly worldwide sales in a decade in February as the coronavirus outbreak damaged demand, in what is the first major indicator of damage to the wider auto sector from the epidemic.

It turned in a initial sales figure of 275,044 vehicles for the month, 13% below 315,820 vehicles sold a year previously. The automaker last reported sales lower than this in February 2010.

South Korea’s Hyundai, which with affiliate Kia Motors is the world’s No.5 automaker, is the first major automaker to declare sales for the month. Chinese and U.S. players will turn in their figures in the coming weeks.

The flu-like virus, which originated in China, has killed over 3,000 and disrupted global financial markets as investors and policymakers ready themselves for global recession.

South Korea has the most cases of infections after China, with the total at more than 4,212. This has affected companies like Hyundai and Samsung.

Hyundai was the first significant automaker to flag a hit to its production outside China when it stopped production at home, its biggest manufacturing base, because of a shortage of parts from China.

While the automaker has slowly resumed output, virus-related uncertainties remain. Just last week, an employee at its factory complex in the southeastern South Korean city of Ulsan tested positive for the virus, resulting in a shutdown of the factory.

The plant, which makes popular models like the Palisade sport utility vehicle, restarted production on Monday, a Hyundai spokesman stated.

South Korean coronavirus cases are observed in the fourth-largest city of Daegu and the North Gyeongsang province, home to about 20% of auto parts providers in the country, according to data showed by Statistics Korea.

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