New product always helps. Stinger, with extra engines soon to come, has given Kia a boost at home and abroad

New product always helps. Stinger, with extra engines soon to come, has given Kia a boost at home and abroad

Domestic sales by South Korea's five largest automakers rose 5.9% to 112,452 units in January from 106,210 units a year earlier, according to preliminary data released individually by the vehicle manufacturers.

The data did not include sales by low volume commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Tata-Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation which typically account for less than 1% of sales.

Also not included was sales of imported vehicles which accounted for 13% of the market last year. These will be covered in a separate report when the data is released later in the month.

The domestic market in January rebounded from a sharp decline in December when deliveries to dealers were held back by industrial action at Hyundai. New models from Hyundai and Kia also helped drive the market forward last month, leaving some of the smaller brands struggling to keep up.

Hyundai reported a 14% year-on-year rise in domestic deliveries to 51,426 units last month, while Kia sales were almost 12% higher at 39,105 units and Ssangyong's more than 9% higher at 7,675 units. 

GM Korea's sales plunged by 33% 7,844 units, however, while Renault-Samsung's sales fell by 12% to 6,402 units.

Global sales among the country's big five automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 1.1% to 613,796 units in January from 620,394 units a year earlier – reflecting lower overseas sales.

Overseas sales, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 1.3% to 501,344 units last month from 507,783 sales a year earlier, reflecting mainly weaker demand in China and the USA.

Hyundai Motor's global sales fell by 1.4% to 334,217 units in January from 338,948 units a year earlier on lower overseas sales. Sales in China and the US continued to decline, offsetting stronger sales at home and in other key markets such as Europe.

Domestic sales jumped by 14% to 51,426 last month from 45,100 units a year earlier, helped by the recent launch of the new Kona compact SUV.

Overseas sales fell by 3.8% to 282,791 units from 293,848 units a year earlier. While China remains a major source of uncertainty, Hyundai hopes the launch of the Kona in the US in March and the new Santa Fe in the summer will help its sales recover in this market.

Kia Motors' global sales rose by 5.2% to 205,126 units in January from 194,898 units a year earlier, reflecting stronger domestic and overseas sales.

Domestic sales rebounded strongly from last month's decline with deliveries to dealers rising by 11.7% to 39,105 units from 35,012 units a year earlier, helped by new models such as the Stonic SUV and the Stinger sporty sedan (actually a hatchback with some new engine variants still to come).

These new models also helped overseas sales climb by 3.8% to 166,021 units last month from 159,886 a year earlier. 

GM Korea's global sales fell by almost 22% to 42,401 units in January from 54,281 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower domestic sales and sluggish exports. 

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

Domestic sales continued to plunge last month by close to 33% to 7,844 units from 11,643 units a year earlier, as sales of the Cruze and Malibu models came under pressure from rising competition from Hyundai and Kia. Exports fell by 1.8% to 34,557 units from 35,199 units a year earlier. 

Renault-Samsung's global sales increased by 7.9% to 21,847 units in January from 20,256 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply higher exports.

Domestic sales continued to decline last month, by almost 14% to 6,402 units from 7,440 units a year earlier. Exports jumped by over 20% to 15,445 units from 12,816 units, helped by rising overseas demand for the QM6 flagship SUV.

Ssangyong Motor, majority owned by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 2.1% fall in built-up vehicle sales to 10,205 units in January from 10,420 units a year earlier on sharply lower exports.

Domestic sales rose by 9.4% to 7,675 units last month from 7,015 units a year earlier, helped by the launch of the new Korando Turismo minivan last month.

Exports plunged by close to 26% to 2,530 units from 3,405 units over the same period. The company hopes the global roll out of the G4 Rexton will help exports rebound in the coming months.

South Korea carmakers, H1 monthly and YTD June 2018 sales

AutomakerDomestic JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneOverseas* JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneGlobal JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneYear to date June 2018
GM Korea (Chevrolet)784458046272537876709529345573092134988331973320937017424013672541260385754087946546246386

Source:, industry sources. * excludes CKD exports

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