Highlights included a 140% June hike in sales of locally made hybrids

Highlights included a 140% June hike in sales of locally made hybrids

Domestic sales among South Korea's five main automakers jumped by 28.7% to 161,061 units in June, from 125,173 units in the same month of last year, according to preliminary data released individually by the country's vehicle manufacturers.

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

Also not included are sales of imported vehicles which accounted for close to 15% of the total South Korean vehicle market last year. These are covered in a separate report released later in the month.

The domestic vehicle market last month continued to benefit from the temporary re-introduction at the beginning of February of the discounted sales tax rate of 3.5%, down from the normal rate of 5%. 

Bank of Korea also cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a record low of 1.25% in June to help underpin the country's domestic economy.

Domestic sales rose by 10.9% to 812,265 units in the first six months of the year, from 732,688 units in the same period of last year. 

With the government expected to normalise the vehicle sales tax rate at the beginning of July, the vehicle market is expected to weaken significantly in the coming months from current record levels.

Sales of locally-made hybrid vehicles increased by 140% to record 6,215 units in June, with local analysts expecting full-year sales to reach 50,000 units compared with over 29,000 units in 2015.

South Korean carmakers: domestic/overseas sales by brand, June 2016
BrandsDomesticOverseasGlobal
Hyundai69,969374,621444,590
Kia52,506215,984268,490
GM Korea18,05837,01955,077
Renault-Samsung10,77812,47623,254
Ssangyong9,7504,41714,077
Total161,061644,517805,488
Sources : www.AsiaMotorBusiness.com, industry sources.

Global sales among the country's "big-five" automakers continued to rebound in June, by 9.8% to 805,488 units from 733,823 units a year earlier. This mainly reflects the strong surge in domestic sales reported above as well as a moderate rebound in overseas sales.
In the first half of the year, global sales were still 1.3% lower at 4,357,999 units, compared with 4,414,040 units a year earlier, reflecting mostly the sharp drop in overseas sales in the first-quarter of the year.

Overseas sales grew by 7.7% to 644,517 units in June, from 598,605 units a year earlier, reflecting strong demand in key markets including the US and India. Year-to-date volumes were 4.2% lower at 3,545,734 units, however, compared with 3,680,217 units in the same period of last year. This reflects particularly weak demand in the first quarter in key markets such as China and Eastern Europe. 

Hyundai Motor's global sales continued to rebound in June, by 9% to 444,590 units from 408,026 units a year earlier. This reflects both strong sales growth in its home market and an improving performance in some key overseas markets. 

In the first half of the year, Hyundai's global sales were just 1% lower at 2,393,958 units compared with 2,416,626 units in the same period of last year.

Hyundai's domestic sales jumped by 11.4% to 69,969 units last month, from 62,802 units a year earlier, as buyers continued to enjoy the discounted sales tax rate last month. Cumulative six-month sales were 4.5% higher at 351,127 units, from 336,079 units in the same period of last year.

Overseas sales increased by just over 8.5% to 374,621 units in June, from 345,224 units a year earlier, with demand in key markets such as India and the EU remaining strong while sales in the US were flat. Volumes in the first half of the year amounted to 2,042,831 units.

Kia Motors' global sales increased by 2% to 268,490 units in June, from 263,255 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply higher domestic sales and a strong performance in some overseas markets.

Cumulative six-month sales were still 3.2% lower at 1,458,112, however, compared with 1,506,797 units a year earlier – reflecting weak volumes in the earlier parts of the year.

Domestic sales jumped by 16.7% to 52,506 units last month, from 45,010 units a year earlier, helped by the discounted sales tax rate and new models including the Niro SUV, launched in April, and the new K7 passenger car.

In the first six months of the year, domestic sales were almost 14% higher at 276,750 units compared with 243,036 units previously.

Overseas sales rebounded last month, by over 10% to 215,984 units from 196,265 units a year earlier, helped by a sharp rise in sales in the USA and buoyant volumes in the EU. Overseas sales in the first half of the year amounted to 1,182,102 units. 

GM Korea's global sales were slightly lower at 55,077 units in June, compared with 55,186 units a year earlier, with strong domestic sales offsetting a sharp decline in exports. Cumulative global sales in the first six months of the year were also slightly lower at 307,512 units compared with 307,879 units in the same period of last year.

The data did not include exports of CKD kits for assembly overseas, which are significant.

Domestic sales soared by close to 48% to 18,058 units last month, from 12,233 units a year earlier on strong demand for the Spark mini-car. Shipments of CBUs to overseas markets fell by 13.8% to 37,019 units, however, from 42,953 units a year earlier.

Renault-Samsung's global sales continued to rebound strongly in June, with volumes rising by over 28% to 23,254 units from 16,964 units a year earlier on sharply higher domestic sales and rising exports. Cumulative six-month global sales were 9.7% higher at 123,930 units, compared with 112,992 units a year earlier.

Domestic sales soared by almost 60% to 10,778 units last month, from 6,753 units a year earlier, helped by the recent introduction of the new SM6 mid-size passenger car. Overseas sales continued to recover in June, with volumes rising by over 22% to 12,476 units from 10,211 units a year earlier.

Ssangyong Motor, owned by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 13.8% rise in sales of built-up vehicles to 14,077 units last month, from 12,372 units a year earlier, reflecting strong domestic sales.

Cumulative six-month sales were 7.1% higher at 74,487 units, compared with 69,578 units in the same period of last year.

Domestic sales rose by 13.6% to 9,750 units, from 8,420 a year earlier, on continued strong demand for the Tivoli SUV. CBU exports also increased in June, by almost 12% to 4,417 units from 3,952 units a year earlier.