In 2016, the automobile industry, excluding China, saw low growth of just 1.2% due to sluggish growth in the U.S., Europe and other major economies, and the sustained slowdown in Brazil, Russia and other emerging markets. The Chinese market, however, benefited from purchase tax cuts, and so the overall market growth rate was 4.4% with China included. Even with all the disruptions in the market, including difficult business conditions and uncertainties from political transformation in major markets and Brexit, as well as Korea’s unstable political landscape, Hyundai has remained focused on quality and stability by positioning our brand firmly in the premium market and expanding the sales of green cars. These efforts resulted in sales of 4.86 million vehicles for the year.
Our Korean plants have an annual production capacity of 1.76 million units. In 2016, the plants modified their work shift schedule to improve flexibility and product quality. With our fourth Chinese plant beginning operations with an annual production capacity of 300,000 units, our overseas production capacity is now 3.198 million units, so our total global production capacity reached 4.958 million units. In 2016, we responded to rising global demand for SUVs by increasing the production of Santa Fe at our U.S. plants, increasing supply of Tucson from the Czech Republic and mass-producing the compact SUV Creta in Russia. Overseas plants are now responsible for 65% of our total production, and with each plant also producing strategic local models, we now have a system in place that allows us to respond quickly and accurately to changing conditions across global markets.
Despite the sales growth thanks to the China’s purchase tax cut, Russia, Brazil and other emerging markets remained stagnant, and persistently low oil prices resulted in a slowerthan-expected recovery in the Middle East and Africa. As a result, our sales for the year fell by 104,782 units to 4,860,049 vehicles.