Kias newly launched Stonic small SUV

Kia's newly launched Stonic small SUV

Domestic sales by South Korea's five mainstream automakers combined jumped by over 20% to 133,551 units in September from weak year earlier volume of 111,159 units, 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 up to 2% of the domestic vehicle market.

Also not included are sales of imported vehicles, which exceeded 12% of the total vehicle market last year. These are covered in a separate report when the data is released later in the month.

Hyundai led the domestic market higher in September with sales rising by almost 44% while sister company Kia saw its sales rise by 25% and Ssangyong's were 18% higher. GM Korea and Renault-Samsung both reported sharp declines, however.

Domestic sales have rebounded strongly in the last three months from weak year earlier levels - immediately after the expiry of a sales tax discount at the end of June 2016. Strike action in September last year also held back sales at Hyundai and Kia. 

New SUV models from leading domestic brands have also helped drive the market higher while consumer confidence has not been visibly affected by rising tensions with the north.

In the first nine months of the year domestic sales were 1.1% higher at 1,164,694 units compared with 1,152,246 units in the same period of last year.

Global sales among the country's 'big five' automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, rebounded in September - by 5.7% to 732,863 units from year earlier sales of 693,529 units – mainly reflecting sharply higher domestic sales.

Global sales in the first nine months of the year were still 5.4% lower at 5,999,749 units compared with 6,339,255 units previously.

Overseas sales, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, increased by 2.9% to 599,312 units last month from 582,370 sales a year earlier – helped by higher Kia sales.

In the first nine months of the year overseas sales were still 6.8% lower at 4,835,053 units, from 5,186,600 units previously. 

Hyundai Motor's global sales rose by 3.5% to 400,995 units in September from 387,300 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp jump in domestic sales. In the first nine months of the year, the brand's global sales were still down, by 6% at 3,269,025 units from 3,479,068 units a year earlier.

Domestic sales jumped by almost 44% to 59,714 units in September from 41,548 units a year earlier, helped by the recent launch of the Kona sub-compact SUV and strong sales of other mainstream models. Cumulative nine month domestic sales were close to 15% higher at 518,671 units compared with 452,663 units a year earlier.

Hyundai's overseas sales continued to decline last month, albeit by just 1.3% to 341,281 units from 345,752 units a year earlier. In the first nine months of the year, the company's overseas sales were 8.2% lower at 2,750,354 units compared with 2,996,112 units previously, mostly reflecting sharply lower sales in China and the USA.

Kia Motors' global sales increased by 7.1% to 252,254 units in September from 235,424 units a year earlier, reflecting a strong rebound in domestic sales and improved overseas sales. In the first nine months of the year global sales were still 6.1% lower at 2,011,697 units compared with 2,142,596 units a year earlier.

Domestic sales jumped by over 25% to 48,019 units last month from 38,300 units a year earlier, driven by strong demand for the newly released Stonic small SUV and the Soul RV model. In the first nine months of the year domestic sales were 2% lower at 388,520 units from 396,460 358,160 units a year earlier. 

Overseas sales recovered some lost ground in September with volumes rising 3.6% to 204,235 units from 197,124 units a year earlier – thanks to a sharp rebound in sales in Russia and stronger sales in the US.

Cumulative nine month overseas sales were still 7% lower at 1,623,278 units compared with 1,746,135 units in the same period last year, reflecting sharply lower sales in China throughout the year.

GM Korea's global sales fell by 10.7% to 40,264 in September, from 45,113 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp decline in domestic sales. In the first nine months of the year, built up vehicle sales were down by 7.5% at 401,980 units compared with 434,573 units a year earlier.

The data did not include exports of knocked down kits for assembly overseas which are substantial. [WardsAuto.com reported September CKD export shipments down 4.1% to 48,004 units and the nine month tally off 12.6% to 445,127 - ed.]

Domestic sales continued to plunge last month, by over 36% to 8,991 units from 14,078 units a year earlier, with most major models under pressure from renewed competition from Hyundai and Kia. Year to date domestic sales were almost 20% lower at 102,504 units from 127,990 units previously.

CBU exports were slightly higher at 31,273 units in September compared with 31,035 units a year earlier, but were 2.3% down year to date at 299,475 from 306,583 units previously.

Renault-Samsung's global sales jumped by over 93% to 26,182 vehicles in September from 13,557 units a year earlier on sharply higher overseas sales. In the first nine months of the year, global sales were up by almost 20% at 204,840 units from 178,659 units a year earlier.

Domestic sales continued to fall sharply last month, by just over 20% to 7,362 units from 9,222 units a year earlier, although year to date sales were still up by 5.6% at 75,190 units compared with 71,204 units previously. 

The company responded to the decline in sales in recent months with the launch of a petrol version of the QM6 flagship SUV and an upgraded SM5 sedan in September.

CBU exports jumped more than fourfold to 18,820 units in September from 4,335 units a year earlier, reflecting continued strong overseas demand for the SM6 flagship sedan and QM6 SUV. In the first nine months of the year, exports were 15.1% higher at 129,669 units from 100,637 units previously.

Ssangyong Motor, majority owned by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, reported an 8.4% rise in sales of built up vehicles to 13,168 units in September compared with 12,144 units a year earlier, driven by stronger domestic sales.

In the first nine months of the year, global sales were still 4.5% lower at 106,651 units, compared with 111,683 units previously.

Domestic sales increased by over 18% to 9,465 units in September, from 8,011 units a year earlier, helped by strong demand for the recently launched G4 Rexton SUV. In the first nine months of the year, domestic sales were 8% higher at 79,847 units from 73,929 units previously. 

CBU exports dropped by over 10% to 3,703 units last month from 4,133 units a year earlier, and by 29% to 26,804 units year to date from 37,754 units. The company hopes the roll-out of the G4 Rexton in Europe and the Middle East will help reverse this decline in the fourth quarter.

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

South Korean carmakers: domestic/overseas sales by brand, September 2017

DomesticOverseas*Total
Hyundai59714341281400995
Kia48019204235252254
GM Korea89913127340264
Renault-Samsung73621882026182
Ssangyong9465370313168

*excludes CKD exports

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