January 24, 2014 / 3:20 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kia Motors sales to outgrow Toyota in 2014, buoyed by China

SEOUL, Jan 24 (Reuters) - South Korean automaker Kia Motors Corp said Friday it expected sales to grow faster than bigger rival Toyota Motor this year, although the won’s strength coupled with the yen’s weakness would put its earnings under pressure.

The company said global retail sales would rise 6 percent to 2.9 million vehicles, driven by China and the United States.

Toyota Motor said on Thursday that its global retail sales would expand 4 percent to 10.32 million vehicles this year, topping 10 million for the first time as the weaker yen gave it a competitive edge overseas.

Kia Motors said it aimed to raise its China sales by 15 percent to 630,000 vehicles this year, helped by the operation of its third factory there and the planned rollout of its new sedan.

Kia said sales in the United States would climb 9 percent from a year earlier, to 585,000 vehicles, while South Korean sales would rise 5 percent to 480,000 vehicles.

Its domestic market would be driven by the introduction of the fully revamped versions of the Carnival mini van and Sorento sport utility vehicle this year.

Shares in Kia Motors and affiliate Hyundai Motor Co slumped over 3 percent on Friday after they posted disappointing quarterly earnings.

Kia Motors’ operating profit fell 10 percent last year, whereas analysts expect Toyota to post a record operating profit in the year ended in March.

Toyota plans to announce its quarterly earnings on Feb. 4.

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