Domestic sales among South Korea’s five main automakers declined by 13.2% to 111,159 units in September, from 128,067 units in the same month of last year, according to preliminary data released individually by the country’s vehicle manufacturers.
The data do 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 in the data are sales of imported vehicles, which accounted for close to 15% of the total vehicle market last year. These are covered in a separate report when the data is released later in the month.
Escalating industrial action at Hyundai-Kia had a significant impact on vehicle production and this was a key reason for the decline in domestic sales. Underlying demand has also weakened since the government readjusted the automotive sales tax to its normal rate of 5% at the end June from the previously discounted rate of 3.5%.
In the first nine months of the year domestic sales were up by just 3.2% at 1,152,245 units, from 1,116,579 units in the same period of last year, reflecting strong first-half sales.
Global sales among the country’s “big-five” automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai-Kia, declined by 2.1% to 693,529 in September, from 708,524 units a year earlier, reflecting the sharp decline in domestic sales and more moderate growth in the USA.
In the first nine months of the year global sales were 1.3% lower at 6,338,813 units, from 6,426,460 units previously on lower overseas sales.
Overseas sales, including overseas production by Hyundai-Kia, were flat at 582,370 units in September, compared with 582,070 units a year earlier. Year-to-date sales were still 2.3% lower at 5,186,560 units, however, from 5,310,268 units previously.
Hyundai Motor‘s global sales fell by 1.9% to 387,302 units in September, from 394,861 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp drop in domestic sales while overseas sales were only slightly higher.
Industrial action at its plants in South Korea escalated in September, resulting in a production loss of around 100,000 vehicles in the last two months according to the company. This has had a significant impact on the company’s output and its sales performance – particularly in its home market.
In the first nine months of the year, Hyundai’s global sales were 1.7% lower at 3,479,326 units, compared with 3,539,237 in the same period of last year, on weak overseas sales.
Hyundai’s domestic sales plunged by just over 20% to 41,548 units last month, from 51,954 units a year earlier, with deliveries held back by a sharp drop in domestic production. Overall market demand has also softened since the expiry of the discounted sales tax.
The sharp drop in domestic sales in the last two months wiped out the strong growth Hyundai enjoyed in the first half of the year, with cumulative nine-month sales falling by 3.3% to 482,667 units from 499,088 units in same period of last year.
Overseas sales rose slightly in September, by 0.8% to 345,754 units from 342,907 units a year earlier, helped by a 6.4% rise in overseas output to 271,000 units. This offset an almost 21% drop in CBU exports as a result of the industrial action.
In the first nine months of the year overseas sales were down by 1.4% at 2,996,663 units, from 3,039,986 units a year earlier.
Kia Motors’ global sales increased by 3.1% to 235,413 units in September, from a revised 228,333 units a year earlier, with a sharp decline in domestic output more than offset by higher overseas production. Cumulative nine-month global sales were 2.1% lower at 2,142,584 units, compared with 2,189,395 units previously.
Domestic sales fell by 14.9% to 38,300 units last month, from 45,010 units a year earlier, with deliveries severely affected by domestic industrial action as well as an overall softening of the domestic market. Cumulative nine-month volumes were still 4.9% higher at 396,460 units, compared with 377,988 units a year earlier, thanks to the brand’s strong first-half performance.
Overseas sales increased by 6.5% to 197,113 units last month, from 185,120 a year earlier, helped by an almost 28% rise in overseas output to 134,413 units which more than offset a 20% drop in exports from South Korea. Year-to-date overseas sales were 3.5% lower at 1,548,407 units – despite strong demand in the EU and North America.
GM Korea’s global sales dropped by 12.4% to 45,113 units in September, from 51,502 units a year earlier, reflecting both weak domestic sales and exports. Cumulative global sales in the first nine months of the year were 4.4% lower at 434,573 units, compared with 454,811 units in the same period of last year.
The data do not include exports of CKD kits for assembly overseas, which are significant.
Domestic sales fell by 14.1% to 14,078 units last month, from 16,393 sales a year earlier, reflecting slowing underlying demand after a strong first half of the year. Cumulative nine-month domestic sales were still 12.3% higher at 127,990 units.
Shipments of CBUs to overseas markets fell by 11.2% to 31,035 units in September, from 35,109 units a year earlier, resulting in a year-to-date drop of close to 10% to 306,583 units.
Renault-Samsung‘s global sales declined by 38.8% to 13,557 units in September, from 22,145 units a year earlier, which the company attributed to a sharp fall in exports due to a key model changeover. Cumulative nine-month global sales were 5.2% higher at 171,211 units, compared with 162,720 units a year earlier.
Domestic sales increased by 39.6% to 9,222 units last month, from 6,604 units a year earlier, helped by new models such as the SM6 mid-size passenger car and the QM6 SUV. Cumulative domestic sales rose by 25.4% to 71,204 units.
Exports fell by more than 72% to 4,335 units in September, from 15,551 units a year earlier, reflecting the full-model changeover of the QM6/Nissan Rogue SUV. Year-to-date exports were 5.6% lower at 100,007 units, but are expected to rebound strongly in the fourth quarter as the new model gains momentum.
SsangYong Motor, owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 5.7% rise in sales of built-up vehicles to 12,144 units in September, from 11,489 units a year earlier, driven by strong overseas demand for the Tivoli SUV.
Cumulative nine-month global sales were 7.4% higher at 111,593 units, compared with 103,874 units in the same period of last year.
Domestic sales fell by 1.2% to 8,011 units last month, but were up by close to 7% at 73,929 units over the nine-month period. Exports jumped by over 22% to 4,133 units on strong EU demand for the new Tivoli Air SUV, resulting in a 9% rise in year-to-date exports to 37,754 units.
South Korean carmakers: domestic/overseas sales by brand, September 2016