Domestic sales among South Korea’s five main automakers fell by 5.9%% to 164,852 units in December, from peak volumes of 175,263 units in the same month of 2015, 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.
Also not included in the data are sales of imported vehicles, which are estimated at less than 13% of the total vehicle market last year. These are covered in a separate report when the data is released later in the month.
The December decline reflects slowing domestic economic growth and rising uncertainty about the global economy. Full-year 2016 sales increased by just 0.6% to 1,588,572 units compared with 1,579,705 in 2015, with tax incentives helping to drive up demand in the first-half of the year.
The country’s smaller vehicle manufacturers enjoyed strong gains in the domestic market last year, particularly Renault-Samsung and GM Korea, offsetting declining Hyundai sales.
Global sales among the country’s “big-five” automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai-Kia, fell by 1.3% to 914,813 in December from 926,508 units in the same month of the previous year, with both domestic and overseas sales performing negatively.
Over the full year, global sales were down by 1.1% at 8,890,530 cars units, compared with 8,986,947 units sold in 2015. The decline can be attributed in part to production losses by the leading automakers in the second half of the year due to domestic strike action.
Overseas sales in December, including overseas production by Hyundai-Kia, were slightly lower at 749,961 units compared with 751,245 units a year earlier, while full-year sales fell by 1.5% to 7,301,958 units compared with 7,411,472 units previously.
Hyundai Motor‘s global sales declined by 3.8% to 496,907 units in December, from 516,359 units a year earlier – as the company struggled with weakening domestic and global demand.
Global sales fell by 2.1% to 4,860,049 units last year, from 4,964,831units in 2015, with deliveries held back by strike action at the company’s domestic plants in the second half of the year. The company also failed to capitalise of growing global demand for SUVs, an area it is looking to strengthen from this year.
Hyundai’s domestic sales continued to decline sharply in December, by over 12% to 72,161 from 82,060 units a year earlier, resulting in a 7.8% drop in full-year sales to 658,642 units – from 714,121 units in 2015. Industrial action hampered deliveries in the second half of the year, as did stronger competition and new models from the country’s smaller manufacturers.
Overseas sales fell by 3.7% to 424,746 units in December, from 434,166 units a year earlier, reflecting both falling exports from South Korean and overseas production. Sales were weaker in key markets such as India, North America, Russia and Brazil, which was offset in part by strong growth in China.
Full-year overseas sales were 1.2% lower at 4,201,407 units, compared with 4,250,710 units in 2015.
Kia Motor’s global sales continued to grow in December, by 2% to 314,303 units from 308,140 units a year earlier, with recovering overseas sales more than offsetting a sharp decline in domestic deliveries.
Full-year global sales were 1% lower at 3,020,215 units, compared with 3,051,054 units in the previous year, with second-half domestic output held back by industrial action.
Domestic sales fell by 7% to 49,600 units last month, from 53,330 a year earlier. Full-year sales were 1.3% higher at 535,000 units, up from 525,954 units in the previous year, reflecting the brand’s strong first-half performance.
Overseas sales continued to recover in December, by 3.9% to 264,703 units from 254,810 a year earlier, reflecting strong demand in North America. Full-year sales were still 1.5% lower at 2,485,217 units, compared with 2,523,085 units previously.
GM Korea’s global sales fell sharply in December, by 11.5% to 54,281 units from 61,338 units a year earlier, with strong domestic sales continuing to make up for weak exports. Full-year global sales were 4% lower at 597,165 units, compared with 622,322 units previously.
The data do not include exports of CKD kits for assembly overseas, which are substantial.
Domestic sales were just slightly higher at 18,313 units last month, from 18,287 units a year earlier. Full-year sales were up by close to 14% to 180,275 units, from 158,404 units a year earlier, reflecting the recent launch of the new Malibu mid-size sedan and strong demand for the Spark mini-car.
Shipments of CBUs to overseas markets fell by over 16% to 35,968 units in December, from 43,051 units a year earlier, resulting in a full-year decline of 10% to 416,890 units.
Renault-Samsung’s global sales continued to grow strongly in December, by close to 28% to 32,617 units from 25,555 units a year earlier, reflecting the roll-out of the new SM6 mid-size sedan and the QM6 crossover vehicle.
Full-year sales rose by 12.3% to 257,345 units in 2016, compared with 229,081 units in the previous year.
Domestic sales jumped by over 37% to 14,078 units in December, from 10,235 a year earlier, helped by new models launched earlier in the year. Full-year domestic sales were up by almost 39% at 111,101 units, from 80,017 units in the previous year.
Exports rebounded in December, by 21% to 18,539 units from 15,320 a year earlier, following disruption in previous months caused by the changeover to the new SM6 and QM6 models in overseas markets. Full-year exports were almost 2% lower at 146,244 units, down from 149,064 units in the previous year.
Ssangyong Motor, owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a sales rise of built-up vehicles of over 10% to 16,705 units in December from 15,116 units a year earlier – driven by strong demand for the Tivoli SUV.
Full-year global sales were 7.8% higher at 155,754 units, compared with 144,541 units in the previous year.
Domestic sales fell by 5.7% to 10,700 units last month but were up by 3.9% at 103,554 units over the full year. CBU exports jumped by close to 59% to 6,005 units in December on strong EU demand for the new Tivoli Air SUV and from emerging markets such as Iran. Full-year exports rose by over 16% to 52,200 units.
South Korean carmakers: domestic/overseas sales by brand, December 2016