Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers continued to rise in April, up 4.2% year on year to 139,617 units from 133,935, according to data released individually by the vehicle manufacturers.

The data does not include sales by the 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 imported vehicles which accounted for close to 15% of total South Korean market sales last year. These are covered in a separate report when the data is released later in the month.

Last month, the market continued to benefit from the re-introduction, at the end of January, of the discounted 3.5% sales tax rate. The government had returned its take to the normal 5% at the end of last year but the consequent sharp sales fall in January forced it to re-introduce the discount which is now scheduled to continue until June.

Domestic sales in the first four months of the year rose 4% to 505,389 units from 486,018 a year ago.

However, the decline in global sales by the ‘big-five’ automakers accelerated in April, reflecting sharply lower overseas sales. Global volume fell by 7.2% to 740,036 units last month, from 797,839, and by 5.8% to 2,790,760 in the first four months of the year, from 2,964,002 a year earlier. 

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Overseas sales fell 9.6% year on year to 600,419 units in April from 663,904, reflecting weakening demand in emerging markets – most notably in the Middle East and eastern Europe, including Russia, as well as rising competition from domestic automakers in China.

Overseas volume in the first four months of the year fell 8.1% to 2,285,371 units from 2,487,386 a year earlier.

Hyundai Motor‘s global sales fell by 5.5% to 412,626 units in April, from 436,859, reflecting both weak domestic and overseas sales. Global sales in the first four months of the year were down 6.2% to 1,520,288 units, reflecting particularly weak demand in developing markets overseas. 

Hyundai’s domestic sales fell last month despite overall market growth, with volume 5.7% lower at 59,469 units, as demand shifted in favour of the smaller domestic brands. The company’s cumulative domestic sales were just 0.9% higher at 220,331 units in the first four months of last year.

Overseas sales fell by over 5.5% year on year to 353,161 units in April, bringing the four-month total to 1,299,412, with buoyant demand in the US more than offset by particularly sharp declines in China, Russia and the Middle East.

Kia Motors‘ global sales fell 11.4% to 241,387 units in April, compared with 272,315 units a year ago – reflecting sharply lower overseas demand. Global sales in the first four months were down 7.5% to 946,545.

Domestic sales rose 12.7% to 48,505 units in April, driven by strong demand for the new K7 passenger car and for the SUVs. Sales in the first four months were 11.8% higher at 176,630 units.

Overseas sales fell by 15.9% to 192,882 units last month, however, resulting in cumulative sales of 770,133 units. Higher sales in North America were more than offset by slower sales in China, Russia and the Middle East.

GM Korea‘s global sales dropped by 4.1% to 50,580 units in April on weaker overseas sales. Cumulative sales in the first four months were 1.3% higher at 400,528, reflecting higher first quarter volume.

GM’s data does not include exports of CKD kits for assembly overseas. 

Domestic sales continued to expand last month, by 10.2% to 13,978 units, reflecting strong demand for the Spark small car and the Impala mid-size car. Exports of complete cars fell 8.6% to 36,602 units, however.

Renault-Samsung‘s global sales fell by over 6% to 21,981 units in April on sharply weaker overseas sales. Cumulative four month sales were 0.8% lower at 76,564.

Domestic sales rose 21.6% to 8,536 units last month, after growing by over 70% in the previous month following the recent launch of the new SM6 mid-size car.

Overseas sales fell by almost 18% to 13,445 units last month, reflecting sharply lower shipments of the SM3 compact passenger car and the outgoing QM5 SUV.

Mahindra & Mahindra-owned Ssangyong Motor reported a 7.4% rise in CBU sales to 13,462 units in April, reflecting strong home market demand for the Tivoli SUV. First quarter sales were up 4% to 47,128 units. 

Domestic sales increased 12.3% to 9,133 units last month, but exports – excluding CKDs – continued to fall – by 1.6% to 4,329.

Data table sources :, industry sources.