New models such as the Stinger pictured and Stonic have given Kia a YTD boost in its home market

New models such as the Stinger pictured and Stonic have given Kia a YTD boost in its home market

Domestic sales by South Korea's five largest automakers combined fell by 11.9% to 105,432 units in February from 119,612 units a year earlier, according to preliminary data released individually by the vehicle manufacturers. 

The data did not include sales by South Korea's low volume commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Tata Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation which typically account for less than 1% of the domestic vehicle market.

Also not included in the data were sales of imported vehicles, which accounted for just under 13% of the total vehicle market last year. These will be covered in a separate report when the data is released later this month.

The market decline in February was blamed largely blamed on fewer working days during the month due to the Lunar New Year holidays compared with last year while sales in January benefited from additional working days for the same reason.

All automakers reported weaker domestic sales in February, with Hyundai and Kia both seeing declines of over 5% while Ssangyong's sales were almost 13% lower. The sharpest decline, of 48%, was reported by GM Korea while Renault Samsung's sales dropped by 33%.

Domestic sales in the first two months of the year were down by 3.5% at 217,884 units from 225,822 units a year earlier, but new models from Hyundai and Kia were expected to help lift the market in the coming months.

Global sales among the country's big five automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 9.8% to 567,919 units in February from 629,888 units a year earlier – reflecting lower domestic and overseas sales.

In the first two months of the year global sales were 5.5% lower at 1,181,715 compared with 1,250,684 units in the same period of last year.

Overseas sales, including vehicles produced locally by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 9.4% to 462,487 units in February from 510,276 units a year earlier, while cumulative two month sales were down by 5.3% at 963,831 units from 1,018,059 units reflecting mainly continued weak demand in China and the US.

Hyundai Motor's global sales declined at the steeper rate of 8.1% to 310,148 units in February from 337,544 units a year earlier on weaker domestic and overseas sales. Cumulative two month global sales fell by 4.7% at 644,365 units from 676,492 units a year earlier.

Hyundai's domestic sales fell by 5.5% to 50,200 units last month from 53,113 units a year earlier, due mainly to the seasonal factors mentioned above, while cumulative two month volume was still 3.5% higher at 101,626 units from 98,213 units in the same period of last year. 

The company's overseas sales fell by 8.6% to 259,948 units in February from 284,431 units a year earlier and were 5.8% lower at 542,739 units in the first two months of the year compared with 576,279 units with sales in China and the US continuing to decline.

The company expects its global sales to pick up in the coming months, as it continues the global roll out of new SUV models including the recently launched Kona and the new Santa Fe.

Kia Motors' global sales fell by 9.1% to 195,962 units in February from 215,580 a year earlier on weak domestic and overseas sales. This resulted in a 2.0% decline in cumulative two month sales to 402,310 units from 410,478 units a year earlier. 

Domestic sales declined by 5.5% to 37,005 units in February from 39,158 units a year earlier after a strong surge in January. This resulted in a 2.5% rise to 76,110 units in the first two months of the year from 74,260 units previously – helped by new models such as the Stonic SUV and the Stinger sports sedan.

Overseas sales fell by 9.9% to 158,957 units in February from 176,422 units a year earlier reflecting a sharp drop in China sales, resulting in a 3.4% decline in cumulative two month sales to 324,978 units from 336,308 units previously.

GM Korea's global sales fell by 19% to 36,725 units in February from 45,366 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower domestic sales and sluggish exports. Sales in the first two months of the year were 14.2% lower at 79,126 units compared with 92,208 units previously.

The data did not include exports of knocked down (KD) kits for assembly overseas which are significant.

Domestic sales continued to plunge in February by over 48% to 5,804 units from 11,227 units a year earlier as models such as the Cruze, Impala and Malibu models came under pressure from rising competition from Hyundai and Kia. 

The company is also struggling to retain confidence in its brand amid speculation that it is considering withdrawing from the market following the announcement of the closure of one of its assembly plants last month. Domestic sales in the first two months of the year were down by over 40% at 13,648 units from 22,870 units in the same period of last year.

Exports fell by 9.4% to 30,921 units in February from 34,139 units a year earlier and by 5.6% to 65,478 units in the first two months of the year from 69,338 units, as the company continued to reduce the Chevrolet brand's presence in global markets.

Renault Samsung's global sales fell by 22.3% to 15,994 units in February from 20,582 units a year earlier on sharply lower domestic and export sales. Cumulative two month sales were 7.3% lower at 37,841 units from 40,838 units last year.

Domestic sales fell by one third to 5,353 units last month from 8,008 units a year earlier, while two month sales were almost 24% lower at 11,755 units from 15,446 units a year earlier.

Exports fell by over 15% to 10,641 units in February from 12,574 units a year earlier after a 20% rise in January, resulting in a 2.7% rise in cumulative two month sales to 26,086 units from 25,390 units previously.

Ssangyong Motor, majority owned by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 16% drop in built up vehicle sales to 9,090 units in February from 10,816 units a year earlier on lower domestic and export sales. 

In the first two months of the year volumes were 9.1% lower at 19,295 units from 21,236 units in the previous year.

Domestic sales declined by almost 13% to 7,070 units last month from 8,106 units a year earlier despite the launch of the new Korando Turismo minivan in January. Cumulative sales were 2.5% lower at 14,745 units from 15,121 previously.

Exports plunged by over 25% to 2,020 units in February from 2,710 units a year earlier and were 25.6% lower at 4,550 units over the two months from 6,115 units previously.

South Korea carmakers, H1 2018 YTD sales

AutomakerDomestic JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneOverseas* JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneGlobal JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneYear to date
Hyundai5142650200675776378861896594942827912599483294643274093251213547283342173101483970413911973870174142222233842
Kia3910537005485405000447046460001660211589571937341900242001302052162051261956922422742400282471762512161381512
GM Korea (Chevrolet)784458046272537876709529345573092134988331973320937017424013672541260385754087946546246386
Renault-Samsung64025353780069037342712015445106411925916193875914801218471599427059230961610121921126018
Ssangyong7655707092438124970996842530202021262806322928941020590901136910930129381257867110
Totals1124521053421394321341971336631318275013444624875795715696295704486146566137965679197190037038267041117464834055138

Source: www.AsiaMotorBusiness.com, industry sources. * excludes CKD exports