SEOUL, South Korea - Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. cut their joint 2008 sales forecast 12.5 percent yesterday and said they would freeze pay for managers amid slumping vehicle demand worldwide.

Separately, Ssangyong Motor Co., South Korea's smallest automaker, said it might not be able to meet its December payroll on time.

Hyundai and Kia said in a statement that they expected total sales to reach 4.2 million vehicles this year, compared with an earlier forecast of 4.8 million.

The two companies, which dominate the South Korean car industry, form the world's fifth-biggest automotive group. Kia is a Hyundai affiliate.

Besides freezing management pay, the statement said that beginning this week, Hyundai would curtail working hours at two production sites, including one that manufactured buses.

The two automakers were in an "emergency management structure to overcome the crisis," the statement said.

Hyundai and Kia have been expanding aggressively overseas. Hyundai has plants in China, India, Turkey, the United States, and the Czech Republic. Kia has plants in China and Slovakia and is building one in the U.S. state of Georgia, near Hyundai's Alabama facility.

Meanwhile, Ssangyong Motor said weakness in the automotive industry and fallout from ongoing banking and financial pressures could prevent timely payment of salaries this month.

Ssangyong, a majority of which is owned by China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., makes the Rexton, Actyon and Musso SUVs as well as the Chairman luxury sedan.