The popularity of Kias new Sorento helped offset difficulties in other markets in May

The popularity of Kia's new Sorento helped offset difficulties in other markets in May

Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers increased just 0.7% to 121,497 units in May, compared with 120,644 units in the same month of last year, according to data released individually by the vehicle manufacturers compiled by just-auto.

The data does not include sales by South Korea’s low volume commercial vehicle manufacturers, including Tata-Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation, which typically account for less than 2% of the domestic market combined.

The home market’s marginally positive performance in May followed two strong months of strong growth helped by a 25 basis point cut in the Bank of Korea’s benchmark interest rate to 1.75% in March. Cumulative five month sales increased by 2.0% to 597,515 units, from 585,552 units a year ago. 

Global sales by the country’s 'big-five' automakers fell 6% to 716,813 units in May, from 762,548 units a year earlier. This reflected a sharp decline in overseas sales, of 7.3% to 595,316 units from 641,904 units previously, with the strong won putting pressure on exports.

Cumulative global sales in the first five months of 2015 fell 2.7% to 3,680,217 units from 3,784,076 units a year ago.

Hyundai Motor’s global sales declined sharply in May, by 6.2% to 389,299 units from 414,961 units a year earlier, reflecting weaker sales in its home market and also overseas. Cumulative five month sales fell by 3.6% to 2,009,409 units.

Hyundai’s domestic sales continue to be affected by the brand’s high exposure to weakening passenger demand as well as rising competition from the smaller domestic and overseas brands. Sales in its home market fell by 8.2% to 54,990 units.

Overseas sales in May fell by 5.8% to 334,309 units, from 355,050 units a year earlier, with the strong won reducing the brand’s competitiveness globally with Japanese manufacturers.

Kia Motors’ global sales fell by 4.6% 242,054 units in May, compared with 253,601 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp decline in overseas demand. Cumulative five month sales were 2.8% lower year on year at 1,265,522 units.

Domestic volume jumped 10.4% to 40,010 units, from 36,252 units a year earlier, thanks mostly to the continued popularity of the Sorento and Sportage SUVs.

Overseas sales fell by just over 7% to 202,044 units, from 237,300 units previously, with weak sales in key markets, including Russia, more than offsetting strong demand for the Sportage and Sorento models elsewhere. The weak yen has also made competition from the Japanese much tougher.

GM Korea’s global sales increased by 3.6% to 54,676 units in May, compared with weak year earlier sales of 52,795 units. Cumulative five month sales fell by 8.4% to 252,693 units, as the company continued to reorganise the global supply base of Chevrolet vehicles in favour of low cost countries.

Domestic sales increased by 3.3% to 12,202 units in May, from 11,810 units a year earlier, while exports of assembled vehicles rose by 4.2% to 42,474 units  after many months of sharp declines.

Renault-Samsung’s global sales jumped by over 39% to 18,874 units in May, from 13,532 units a year earlier, bringing the cumulative five month total to 96,028 units  - up 87% year on year.

Overseas sales rose by more than 101% to 12,332 units, thanks to the recent launch of exports of the Renault Rogue, while domestic sales fell by 11.6% to 6,542 units compared with strong year earlier data. 

Ssangyong Motor, owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 1.3% decline in global sales to 11,910 units in May, from 12,072 units a year earlier. Cumulative sales fell by close to 8% to 57,206 units.

Domestic sales jumped by over 47% year on year to 7,753 units, helped by the recent launch of the new Tivoli compact SUV. Overseas sales fell by almost 39% to 4,157 units, however, reflecting weak demand in key markets such as Russia and the Ukraine.

South Korean carmakers: domestic/overseas sales by brand, May 2015

Brands

Domestic

Overseas

Global

Hyundai

54,990

334,309

389,299

Kia

40,010

202,044

242,054

GM Korea

12,202

42,474

54,676

Renault-Samsung

6,542

12,332

18,874

Ssangyong

7,753

4,157

11,910

Total

121,497

595,316

716,813

Sources : www.AsiaMotorBusiness.com, industry sources.