Citing evidence of increased demand both at home and overseas, South Korea's top carmaker Hyundai Motor Company aims to increase vehicle sales volumes by more than 15% in the year ahead.

Buttressed by a 50% share of its home market, Hyundai, the world's seventh largest auto manufacturer, has set a 2006 sales target of 2.69 million units, compared with the 2.33m sold in 2005.

In revenue terms this equates to $41.6 billion (€35.13bn; £24.21bn), a year-on-year increase of 20% in dollar terms.

Hyundai affiliate Kia Motors Corporation, the country's number two automaker, expects to sell 1.43m vehicles in 2006 - up 17% by volume and 24% by revenue.

But Chung Mong-Koo, who chairs both Hyundai and Kia, remains cautious despite the bullish sales targets: "The business environment remains challenging in the new year," he warns, citing higher raw material prices, labour costs and the strength of the South Korean currency.

The ambitious targets are based on increased output and sales from the companies' plants in the USA, China and India. The duo are also set to open a second production centre in China plus a new unit in Slovakia, eastern Europe.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online and Reuters; additional content by WARC staff