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Domestic sales among South Korea’s five main automakers increased by 13.7% to peak levels of 175,263 units in December, from already buoyant year-earlier sales of 154,108 units, according to data released individually by the vehicle manufacturers.

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 up to 2% of the domestic market combined. 

Also not included are sales of imported vehicles, which accounted for an estimated 15% of the total vehicle market in South Korea last year.

The domestic vehicle market, and the domestic economy as a whole, continued to benefit from low energy prices, government stimulus including reduced taxes and historically-low benchmark interest rates of 1.5%. New models, particularly SUVs, are also helping to stimulate demand.

Last month buyers rushed in ahead of the expiry of the discounted consumption tax rate of 3.5%, in place since August, before its return to the usual 5% at the end of the year.

Full-year domestic sales rose by 8.7% to 1,579,592 units in 2015, from 1,453,868 units in the previous year, driven by strong demand in the second half of the year.

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By GlobalData

Global sales among the country’s “big-five” automakers increased by 8.8% to 926,508 units in December, from 851,830 units in the same month of last year.  

Full-year global sales were 8.7% higher at 8,986,947 in 2015, up from 8,909,193 units in the previous year, boosted by a strong second-half performance as Hyundai-Kia stepped up global marketing.

Hyundai-Kia‘s sales at home, in India, North America and Europe grew strongly last year to 1,678,922 units, offsetting a combined 4.9% decline in China, and weak demand in Eastern Europe – particularly in Russia and the Ukraine. 

Hyundai Motor‘s global sales increased by 14.3% to 516,359 units in December, from 475,997 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp rise in domestic sales and also an improving overseas performance following a recent intensification of marketing campaigns in key global markets. 

Full-year global sales were slightly positive at 4,965,328 units, compared with 4,963,118 units in 2014, after a stronger second half of the year.

Hyundai’s domestic sales jumped by 18.3% to 82,060 units in December. from 69,357 units a year earlier, reflecting the recent launch of the new Avante sub-compact car and strong demand for SUVs such as the Tuscon and Santa Fe – as local fuel prices continued to drop. Full-year sales were 4.2% higher at 714,121 units, from 685,191 units in 2014.

Overseas shipments rose by 6.8% to 434,299 units in December, but were slightly lower over the full-year – by 0.6% to 4,251,207 units from 4,277,927 units in 2014.

Kia Motors‘ global sales rose by 9.1% to 308,140 units in December, from 282,488 units a year earlier, with new models helping to drive sales higher both at home and abroad. Cumulative global sales inched up by 0.3% to 3,050,908 units in 2015.

Domestic sales rose by 11.1% year-on-year to 53,330 units in December, helped by strong demand for the Sportage SUV and the newly launched K5 passenger car. 

Overseas sales increased by 8.7% to 254,810 units last month, driven mainly by a sharp increase in sales in North America.

GM Korea‘s global sales rebounded in December, by 7.6% 61,338 units from 57,015 a year earlier, reflecting a sharp rise in overseas sales and a slight increase in domestic sales.

Domestic sales rose by just 1% to 18,287 units from 18,109 units a year earlier, while overseas shipments were 10.7% higher at 43,051 units, from 40,138 units previously.

Over the full-year, global sales fell by 1.4% to 622,322 units, from 631,136 units in 2014.

Renault-Samsung‘s global sales grew by 8.1% to 25,555 units in December, up from 23,645 units a year earlier, on sharply higher overseas sales.

Domestic sales continued to fall last month, by 1.2% year-on-year to 10,235 units, as competition from its larger domestic rivals continued to strengthen. Exports rose by 15.3% year-on-year to 15,320 units. 

Full-year global sales were up by 34.9% at 229,082 units. 
Ssangyong Motor, owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, reported an 18.4% rise in factory sales in South Korea to 15,116 units in December, from 12,764 units a year earlier, on strong domestic demand which more than offset a sharp drop in exports.

Domestic sales jumped by over 37% year-on-year to 11,351 units, reflecting continued strong demand for the Tivoli SUV. CBU exports fell by more than 16% to 3,765 units, reflecting particularly weak demand in Eastern Europe where local capacity also is coming on stream.

Full-year domestic sales and CBU exports combined were 3.3% higher at 144,541 units.

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

Sources :, industry sources.