Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined fell slightly to 105,091 units in August 2022 from 106,247 units a year earlier, according to preliminary wholesale data released individually by the companies.

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 by a separate report.

The domestic vehicle market remained weak in August, following a series of interest rate increases by the central bank over the last year and reflecting also rising economic uncertainty.

Some manufacturers also continued to be affected by supply chain bottlenecks. Hyundai reported a 6% fall in local sales to 49,224 units last month while Kia volume rose just 1% to 41,404 units. Performances among other brands were also mixed, with GM Korea reporting a 24% plunge to 3,590 units and Renault Korea sales were down by 14% at 3,950 units while Ssangyong saw its sales surge by over 42% to 6,923 units.

In the first eight months of the year, combined domestic sales were down 9% at 896,111 units from 983,031 in the same period of last year.

Global sales by the country’s big five automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, increased by almost 12% to 615,156 units in August from 550,367 units a year earlier due to surging overseas sales, while cumulative eight month volume was down 1% at 4,793,549 from 4,863,350 units. Overseas sales increased 3% to 510,065 units last month from 493,383 a year earlier and were just slightly higher at 3,897,438 units year to date from 3,880,319 units.

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By GlobalData

Hyundai Motor global sales increased 12% to 334,794 units in August from 300,004 a year earlier, reflecting higher overseas deliveries while domestic sales continued to underperform. Global sales in the first eight months of the year were still down 4% at 2,544,681 units compared with 2,644,649 in the same period of last year.,

Domestic sales dropped 6% to 49,224 units last month from 51,034 a year earlier, despite strong demand for SUVs and for the upmarket Genesis brand. Eight month sales were down 11% at 439,925 from 496,985 units. Overseas sales increased 15% to 285,570 units in August from 248,970 units, helped by strong US sales, while cumulative sales were down 2% at 2,104,756 from 2,147,664 units, reflecting significant headwinds in the first half of the year including the suspension of the company’s operations in Russia and supply chain shortages.

Earlier this year, Hyundai forecast 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 its latest statement the company said it “expects to recover its sales with a strengthened product line up, including the recently revealed Ioniq 6 and the new Grandeur sedan to be unveiled at the end of this year”.

Kia global sales rose by over 10% to 239,887 vehicles in August from 217,226 a year earlier, thanks mainly to stronger overseas sales as supply chain bottlenecks continued to ease. In the first eight months of the year, the automaker’s global sales were up slightly at 1,919,106 units from 1,904,053 units.

Domestic sales rose 1% to 41,404 units last month from 41,003 a year earlier but were still down by over 3% at 355,291 units year to date from 367,547 units, despite strong demand for SUVs such as the Sorento and Sportage. Overseas sales rose by almost 13% to 198,483 units in August from 176,223 units, helped by a 22% surge in the US, while year to date volume increased 2% to 1,560,941 from 1,536,506 units, underpinned by strong demand for the Sportage and Seltos SUVs.

Kia left unchanged its full year global sales forecast of 14% growth to 3.15 million vehicles in 2022, including 562,000 domestic sales and 2.59 million units overseas, with new models such as the EV6 GT and the redesigned Niro helping to drive up demand.

GM Korea global sales rose by almost 10% to 18,208 vehicles in August from 16,616 units a year earlier, with a strong surge in exports offsetting sharply lower domestic sales. Cumulative eight month sales were still down by 12% at 167,030 units from 190,614 previously, with output significantly affected by the global shortage of semiconductors in the first half of the year.

Local sales plunged by over 24% to 3,590 units in August from 4,745 units a year earlier and by 41% to 25,258 year to date from 42,869 units. The automaker continued to beef up its domestic line with imports from the US with 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’s market entry.

Exports rose 23% year on year to 14,618 units last month from 11,871 units, driven by strong deliveries of the Trailblazer SUV, while cumulative volume was still down 4% at 141,772 from 147,823 units.

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 end 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. A new crossover is scheduled to go into production in Changwon later this year.

Renault Korea saw its global sales surge by 31% to 11,622 vehicles in August from 8,846 units a year earlier, as soaring exports more than offset weak domestic sales. Overall sales in the first eight months of the year were up 38% at 104,451 from 75,805 units, reflecting mainly strong export growth throughout most of the year.

Domestic sales fell by 14% to 3,950 units last month from 4,604 a year earlier and by almost 11% to 34,437 year to date from 38,492 units. Exports soared 81% to 7,672 units in August from 4,242 units a year earlier and were up 88% at 70,381 YTD from 37,403 units, as the company stepped up shipments of the XM3 and QM6 SUVs to Europe.

In July Renault Korea announced plans to produce its first EV in 2026 by which time it expects the local EV market to have risen to 20% of overall vehicle sales, increasing to between 30% and 40% by 2030.

Ssangyong Motor global sales increased 32% to 10,645 vehicles in August from 7,675 units a year earlier, reflecting strong domestic and overseas. Cumulative eight month sales were up 21% at 58,281 units from 48,229 units.

Domestic sales surged 42% to 6,923 units last month from 4,861 a year earlier, while year to date volume was up 11% at 41,200 from 37,138 units. Exports rebounded 31% to 3,752 units in August from weak year earlier sales of 2,874 units while cumulative volume was 47% higher at 27,816 from 18,916 units. The company launched its first battery powered SUV in March, the Korando e-Motion, to help strengthen its domestic sales.

The acquisition of a majority stake in Ssangyong by a consortium led by local steel and chemicals company KG Group is on track for completion by the 15 October deadline imposed by the Seoul Bankruptcy Court, after it was approved by the Fair Trade Commission while creditors last week agreed to a rehabilitation programme involving the issue of new shares, a limited cash pay off and a debt to equity swap.

GM Korea3,59014,61818,208
Renault Korea3,9507,67211,622
Sources: industry data