SEOUL, March 19 (Korea Bizwire) – Shares of Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. plunged Monday as the U.S. probe into airbag-related accidents raised worries over potential recall costs for the carmakers.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Hyundai Motor Group are jointly looking into why the two carmakers’ airbags failed to deploy in Hyundai Sonata sedans and some Kia Forte compacts that were involved in six crashes. The incidents have led to four people being killed and six injured, a Hyundai spokesman said over the phone.
Some 425,000 Sonatas made in 2011 and Fortes made from 2012-2013 are subject to the investigation by the U.S. regulator, the company said.
On Monday, Hyundai Motor shares fell 3.81 percent to 151,500 won and Kia Motors declined 3.53 percent to 31,400 won, both under-performing the broader KOSPI’s 0.76 percent loss. Its affiliate Hyundai Mobis Co. was down 2.38 percent at 226,000 won.
As airbag suppliers are different for the Sonata sedan sold in the U.S. and South Korea and the kinds of airbags are different for the Forte compact sold in the two markets, there have been no reported cases of airbag problems for Sonatas and Fortes sold in Korea and other markets, the spokesman said.
The probe on the airbags in the two models may weigh on the carmaker’s stock prices going forward at a time when they badly need to boost sales in the world’s most important automobile market by launching new and upgraded models this year.
Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world’s fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, sold a total of 163,637 vehicles in the U.S. in the January-February period, down 8 percent from 177,826 units a year earlier.