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Hyundai Motor Targets 20% Rise in 2008 Car Sales

Hyundai Motor, South Korea's top auto maker, said on Wednesday it was aiming to sell 3.11 million vehicles in 2008, up 19.6 percent from 2.6 million last year.

But the ambitious sales goal caused shares in Hyundai to fall, as analysts said the target would be hard to achieve.

"Hyundai Motor's 2008 sales target looks very aggressive," said Kim Byung-kuk, an analyst at Daishin Securities. "Most brokers think it will be difficult for Hyundai to sell over 3 million units this year.

"There are big concerns about the U.S. car market this year, because of mounting subprime mortgage troubles," said Kim. "Hyundai stands a chance of faring better than Detroit's Big Three if its strategy to focus on fuel efficiency amid rising gasoline prices proves successful."

Hyundai, which is the world's No. 6 carmaker when combined with affiliate Kia Motors, also said in a filing with the Korea Exchange it had set its 2008 revenue target at 46 trillion won ($49.16 billion), up 12 percent from 2007's 41 trillion won.

Kia, the country's No.2 auto maker, said in a Korea Exchange filing that it aimed to sell 1.7 million vehicles in 2008, up 24 percent from 1.37 million last year. It is targeting 2008 revenue of 23 trillion won in 2008, up 21 percent from 2007.

Increased spending by South Korean consumers is expected to bolster profits in coming quarters at Hyundai, which controls about half of the high-margin domestic auto market.

But sales are expected to remain under pressure in the United States, where fallout from the housing market is denting demand, and China, where fierce competition is hurting.