Domestic sales by South Korea’s five largest automakers continued to rebound in April 2020, by 6.5% to 145,141 units from 136,296 units in the same month of last year, according to preliminary data released individually by the companies.

The data did not include sales by low-volume commercial vehicle manufacturers, including Tata-Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation, as well as sales of imported vehicles which will be covered in a separate report when that data is released later in the month. Together these accounted for 14% of total vehicle sales in the country last year.

The market in April continued to rebound from a 20% year on year decline in February when deliveries to dealers were held back by widespread plant closures following the disruption of component supply chains in China due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. South Korea is expected to be one of the first countries in Asia to overcome the virus outbreak with business activity already beginning to return to normal.

KIA Motors once again drove the market’s recovery last month, with sales jumping by 20% to 50,361 units thanks to strong demand for models such as the Niro and Seltos.

Hyundai reported a slight sales decline, of 0.5% to 71,042 units, despite the launch of the new generation Avante compact passenger car during the month.

GM Korea’s domestic sales increased by 4.2% to 6,706 units while Renault Samsung volume jumped by 78% to 11,015 units thanks to the recent launch of the new XM3 SUV.

Struggling Ssangyong saw its domestic sales continue to plunge last month, by 41% to 6,017 units.

In the first four months of 2020 domestic sales by the big five automakers were still down by 3.4% at 477,540 units from 494,333 units in the same period of last year. 

Global sales by the country’s ‘big-five’ automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia , continued to fall sharply in April, by 48% to 341,944 units from 662,571 units a year earlier reflecting plunging overseas sales. Global sales in the first four months of the year were down by more than 19% at 2,033,112 units from 2,522,338 units previously.

Overseas sales, including exports and vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, plunged by almost 63% to 196,803 units last month from 526,275 units a year earlier, reflecting economic lockdowns and temporary plant closures in key regional markets including North America, Europe, India and Latin America. Overseas sales in the first four months of the year were down by over 23% at 1,555,572 units from 2,028,005 units in the same period of last year.

Hyundai Motor ‘s global vehicle sales plunged by almost 57% to 159,079 units in April from 368,953 units a year earlier, mainly reflecting sharply lower overseas sales. In the first four months of the year global sales were down by close to 24% at 1,062,505 units from 1,390,344 units previously.

Hyundai’s domestic sales fell by just 0.5% to 71,042 units last month from 71,413 units a year earlier, with deliveries beginning to stabilise following earlier plant shutdowns. Sales were also underpinned by new model launches, including the new generation Avante compact passenger car and the upgraded Sonata last month and the new Genesis GV80 SUV earlier in the year. Domestic sales in the first four months of the year were down by 9.9% at 230,103 units from 255,370 units.

Overseas sales plunged by over 70% to 88,037 units in April from 297,540 units a year earlier, reflecting widespread economic lockdowns and temporary plant closures in key regional markets including in the North America, Europe, India and Latin America. In the first four months of the year overseas sales were down by almost 27% at 832,402 units from 1,134,974 units previously.

Hyundai has suspended operations at most of its overseas plants over the last two months, including Europe, Russia, Brazil and India, while its US plant in Alabama resumed operations this week. In a press statement, the company said it plans to “implement measures tailored for individual regions to spur a speedy recovery. Hyundai Motor will also raise its risk management capability and stabilise its supply chain to minimise the negative business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Kia Motors‘ global sales fell by over 41% to 134,216 units in April from 227,943 units a year earlier, reflecting mainly a sharp decline in overseas sales. Total sales in the first four months of the year were down by almost 11% at 782,901 units from 877,839 units a year earlier.

Domestic sales jumped by 20% to 50,361 units last month from 42,000 units a year earlier, as sales continued to rebound from production shutdowns caused by supply chain disruption and also the implementation of measures to help prevent the spread of COVID19. Demand was particularly strong for models such as the Niro, Seltos and Sportage SUVs. Domestic sales in the first four months of the year were 6.1% higher at 167,100 units from 157,465 units a year earlier. 

Overseas sales plunged by almost 55% to 83,855 units in April from 185,943 units a year earlier, reflecting falling overseas demand and plant shutdowns in key regional markets including such as North America, Europe and Latin America. Overseas sales in the first four months of the year were down by 17.3% at 596,101 units from 720,374 units.

GM Korea‘s global sales fell by almost 27% to 28,749 units in April from 39,242 in the same month of last year, reflecting sharply lower overseas sales. The company’s total sales in the first four months of the year were down by 25% at 115,277 units from an already weak 153,661 units a year earlier.
Domestic sales increased by 4.2% to 6,706 units last month from 6,433 units a year earlier, helped by the recent launch of the locally made Trailblazer SUV. Local sales in the first four months of the year were close to 12% higher at 25,750 units from 23,083 units previously. 

Exports fell by almost 33% to 22,043 units in April from 32,809 units a year earlier and by more than 31% to 89,527 units in the first four months of the year from 130,578 units. 

Renault-Samsung, owned 80% by Renault, saw its global sales fall by 4.6% to 13,087 vehicles in April from 13,720 units in the same month of last year, with a sharp rise in domestic sales more than offset by plunging exports. Total volume in the first four months of the year fell by close to 22% to 41,477 units from 52,930 in the same period of last year.

Domestic sales continued to rebound strongly last month, by 78% to 11,015 units from 6,175 units a year earlier, driven by the recent launch of the new XM3 SUV model. Local sales year to date increased by almost 36% to 31,003 units from 22,812 units.

In December the company said it aimed to lift domestic sales to over 100,000 units in 2020 from 76,879 units in 2019 with the launch of three redesigned models and three upgraded vehicle lines in the first half of the year. The three new models are the XM3 compact SUV, launched in the first quarter, the second generation QM3 SUV and the redesigned Zoe battery powered electric vehicle, both of which are due out in the second quarter.

The revised models are the SM6 sedan, QM6 SUV and Master van.

Exports plunged by close to 73% to 2,072 units in April from 7,545 units a year earlier, reflecting mainly the end last year of export orders for the Rogue SUV from Nissan Motor Japan. Export volume in the first four months of the year was down by more than 65% at 10,474 units from 30,118 units.

Ssangyong Motor, majority-owned by Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 45% drop in global sales to 6,813 units in April from 12,281 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower domestic and export sales. Overall sales in the first four months of the year were down by close to 33% to 30,952 units from 45,908 in the same period of last year.

Domestic sales fell by over 41% to 6,017 units last month from 10,275 a year earlier, resulting in a more than 37% drop in year to date sales to 23,534 units from 37,625 units. Exports plunged by 67% to 796 units in April from 2,438 units previously and by 22% to 7,418 units in the first four months of the year from 9,507 units. 

Last month the struggling South Korea SUV manufacturer confirmed its Indian parent planned to inject KRW40bn (US$33m) to help keep the company afloat as it continued to struggle under the impact of the global COVID19 coronavirus pandemic.