Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined rebounded by almost 13% to 120,026 units in October 2022 from 106,424 units a year earlier, according to preliminary wholesale data released individually by the companies.

As usual, the data did not include sales by low volume commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Tata-Daewoo and Edison Motors, as well as sales of imported vehicles which are covered in a separate report.

The domestic vehicle market last month was lifted by a further easing of supply chain bottlenecks, with improving supplies of semiconductors allowing local vehicle manufacturers to fulfill more order backlogs.

Economic growth slowed in the third quarter on weakening domestic and export demand, with consumer sentiment falling further in October. The central bank has raised interest rates from 1% to 3% so far this year, with the latest 50 basis point hike coming at the of October.

Almost all domestic manufacturers reported stronger sales last month, with market leader Hyundai booking a rise of 5% to 60,736 vehicles while sister company Kia sales were up 14% at 43,032 units.

GM Korea sales rebounded 63% to 4,070 units from very weak year earlier levels, while Ssangyong domestic sales more than doubled to 7,850. By contrast, Renault Korea reported a 13% fall to 4,338.

In the first 10 months of the year, combined domestic sales were down 4% at 1,129,793 units from 1,181,245 in the same period of last year.

‘Big five’ results

Global sales by the country’s “big-five” automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, increased 17% to 645,209 units in October from 552,568 a year earlier due to stronger domestic and overseas sales, while cumulative YTD volume was up 2% at 6,115,857 from 5,967,835 units.

Overseas sales increased 18% to 525,183 units last month from 446,144 a year earlier and were 4% higher at 4,986,064 units YTD from 4,786,590.

Hyundai Motor global sales rebounded 12% to 347,324 units in October from 309,481 a year earlier, reflecting sharply higher domestic and overseas deliveries as those supply chain bottlenecks continued to ease. YTD global sales were slightly higher at 3,251,373 units compared with 3,239,568 a year ago.

Domestic sales increased 5% to 60,736 units last month from 57,813, driven by strong demand for SUVs and the upmarket Genesis brand. YTD sales were still down 7% at 557,571 from 598,655, reflecting sharp declines earlier in the year.

The company launched the fully redesigned Grandeur and new Ioniq 6 models last month, both of which are expected to help lift domestic sales in the last two months of the year.

Overseas sales increased 14% to 286,588 units in October from 251,668, helped by strong sales in the Americas, India and the Asia-Pacific region. YTD, overseas sales were 2% higher at 2,693,802 from 2,640,913 despite significant headwinds in the first half of the year including the suspension of the company’s operations in Russia and significant supply chain shortages.

Hyundai left unchanged its earlier forecast of an 11% rise in full year global sales to 4,323,000 vehicles, driven by a 13% rise in overseas sales to 3,591,000 units and a slight rise in domestic sales to 732,000 units. In a recent statement the company said it expected the recent rebound to continue in the fourth quarter, helped by a strengthened product line.

Kia global sales rose 9% to 238,660 vehicles in October from 219,836 a year earlier, driven by stronger domestic and overseas sales as supply chain bottlenecks continued to ease. Year to date, global sales were up 2.6% at 2,410,246 units from 2,348,246 units.

Domestic sales rose 14% to 43,032 units last month from 37,837 a year earlier, driven by strong demand for SUVs such as the Sorento and Sportage, with YTD deliveries just slightly lower at 438,332 units from 441,185.

Overseas sales rose 7% to 195,628 units in October from 181,999, helped by strong demand in key markets such as the US and India, while YTD volume increased 3% to 1,965,706 from 1,907,061, underpinned by strong demand for the now well established Sportage and Seltos SUVs.

Kia left unchanged its full year global sales forecast of 14% growth to 3.15m vehicles in 2022, including 562,000 domestic sales and 2.59m units overseas.

GM Korea global sales surged fourfold to 26,811 vehicles in October from depressed year earlier sales of 6,875, driven by a strong rebound in domestic and export sales. YTD sales were up 3% at 218,263 units from 211,239, despite an acute global shortage of semiconductors in the first half.

Local sales rose 63% to 4,070 units in October from 2,493 a year earlier but were down 28% at 37,410 YTD from 51,727. The automaker continued to beef up its domestic model line with US imports – the recent arrival of the upgraded Equinox and Tahoe SUVs. The company said it would launch the GMC brand in the second half of the year with the Sierra Denali pickup truck set to lead the brand market entry.

Exports surged fivefold to 22,741 units last month from 4,382, driven by strong deliveries of the Trailblazer SUV while cumulative volume was up 13% at 180,853 from 159,512.

Earlier this year GM Korea announced plans to cease operations at its Bupyeong 2 plant by the end of 2022 with production of the Trax compact SUV and Malibu midsize sedan to be discontinued in November. Production would be concentrated at the Bupyeong 1 and Changwon plants which have a combined production capacity of 500,000 vehicles annually on three shifts. They make the Chevy Trailblazer SUV and the Spark mini car respectively.

The company is looking for a strong recovery in 2023, helped by the introduction of a new crossover vehicle at the Changwon plant in the first quarter of this year and increased production of the Trailblazer in Bupyeong.

Renault Korea saw its global sales rise 66% to 19,258 units in October from 11,627 a year earlier, driven by strong export sales. Overall global sales YTD were up 36% at 142,631 from 102,179 units, reflecting mainly strong export growth throughout most of the year.

Domestic sales fell 13% to 4,338 units last month, from 5,002 a year earlier, but were up slightly higher at 43,458 YTD from 42,893. Exports more than doubled to 14,920 units in October from 6,625 a year earlier and were up 82% at 99,173 YTD from 59,286 units, as the company stepped up shipments of the Renault branded XM3 and QM6 SUVs to Europe.

In July, Renault Korea announced plans to produce its first EV model in 2026, by which time it expected the local EV market to have expanded to 20% of overall vehicle sales, rising further to 30% to 40% by 2030.

Ssangyong Motor global sales tripled to 13,156 vehicles in October from a depressed 4,749 a year earlier, reflecting surging domestic and overseas sales. YTD sales were up 40% at 93,344 units from 66,603.

Domestic sales jumped to 7,850 units last month from 3,279 a year earlier while YTD volume was up by 28% at 56,725 from 44,276 units. The company launched its first battery powered SUV in March, the Korando e-Motion, to help strengthen its domestic sales.

Exports surged to 5,306 units in October from weak year-earlier sales of 1,470, while cumulative volume was 64% higher at 36,769 from 22,477.

Last month, the company signed a deal to supply Saudi National Automobiles Manufacturing Company with 170,000 semi knocked down (SKD) Rexton SUVs over six years starting in 2023.

The acquisition of a majority stake in Ssangyong, by a consortium led by local steel and chemicals company KG Group, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, which would remove the automaker from the supervision of the Seoul Bankruptcy Court.

GM Korea4,07022,74126,811
Renault Korea4,33814,92019,258