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March 5, 2019

South Korean sales fall 1% in February, +2% YTD

Domestic sales by South Korea's five largest automakers declined by 1.1% to 104,307 units in February from 105,432 units in the same month of last year, according to preliminary data released individually by the vehicle manufacturers.

By bcusack

Domestic sales by South Korea’s five largest automakers declined by 1.1% to 104,307 units in February from 105,432 units in the same month of last year, 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, including Tata-Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation, as well sales of imported vehicles which are covered in a separate report when the data is released later in the month. Together they accounted for close to 15% of total vehicle sales last year.

The domestic market last month weakened slightly, after a strong surge in January, driven by a sharp rise in Hyundai deliveries following the recent launch of new SUV models. The market also remained supported by the government’s decision late last year to continue with the discounted 3.5% consumption tax rate until June 2019. 

Hyundai continued to underpin the domestic market in February with sales rising by 6.4% to 53,406 units, while Ssangyong was the only other brand to post an increase – of 7.2% to 7,579 units. Kia sales fell by over 10% to 33,222 units last month while GM Korea sales dropped by almost 11% to 5,179 units and Renault-Samsung was 8% lower at 4,923 units.

Overall domestic sales in the first two months of 2019 were 1.8% higher at 221,771 units from 217,884 units in the same period of 2018.

Global sales among the country’s big five automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 1.2% to 564,739 units in February from 571,495 units a year earlier – reflecting both weaker domestic and overseas sales. Volume in the first two months of the year was 3.4% lower at 1,150,778 units compared with 1,191,670 units in the same period of last year.

Overseas sales, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 1.1% to 460,792 units last month from 466,063 units, resulting in a 4.6% drop in cumulative two-month sales to 929,337 units from 973,786 units – due mainly to continued sluggish sales in China and weakening demand in Europe.

Hyundai Motor‘s global vehicle sales edged up by 0.3% to 313,172 units in February from 312,268 units a year earlier, with strong domestic sales almost entirely offset by slightly weaker overseas sales. In the first two months of the year the company’s global sales were down by 3.9% at 626,485 units from 651,642 units a year earlier.

Domestic sales in February continued to be lifted by strong demand for new SUVs such as the Palisade and Santa Fe and the Sonata passenger car, with overall deliveries to dealers rising by 6.4% to 53,406 units from 50,200 a year earlier. Sales in the first two months of the year were 12% higher at 113,846 units from 101,626 units in the same period of last year.

Overseas sales fell by just under 1% to 259,766 units in February from 262,068 units a year earlier, resulting in a 0.3% increase in the first two months of the year to 430,664 units from 429,311 units previously, with continued weak sales in China offset by growth elsewhere in Asia.

Kia Motors‘ global sales were just slightly lower in February at 197,647 units from 197,418 units a year earlier, with weak domestic demand almost entirely offset by stronger overseas sales. In the first two months of the year the brand’s global sales increased by 0.7% to 406,555 units from 403,766 a year earlier.

Domestic sales fell by 10.2% to 33,222 units last month from 37,005 units a year earlier, as the brand continued to struggle to compete with new models from Hyundai. In the first two months of the year Kia’s sales were down by 6.4% at 71,232 units from 76,110 units previously.

Kia said it planned to step up new model launches globally this year, including a redesigned Soul and a new entry level SUV, codenamed SP2.

Overseas sales rose by 2.5% to 164,425 units in February from 160,413 units a year earlier, resulting in a 2.3% rise in year-to-date sales to 335,323 units from 327,656 units, helped by recovering demand in the US and strong global demand for the Sportage SUV.

GM Korea‘s global sales fell by almost 11% to 32,718 units in February from 36,725 units a year earlier, reflecting both weaker domestic and export sales. Cumulative two-month sales were almost 10% lower at 71,423 units compared with 79,126 units in the same period of last year.

Domestic sales fell by almost 11% to 5,177 units last month from 5,804 units a year ago, as the brand struggled to compete with new models from Hyundai despite the launch of the Equinox SUV and the new Spark minicar last year. The launch of the Transverse SUV is also imminent. Sales in the first two months of the year were 25% lower at 10,230 units from 13,648 units previously.

Exports fell by almost 11% to 27,541 units in February from 30,921 units a year earlier and by 61,193 units in the first two months of the year from 65,478 units.

Renault-Samsung‘s global sales continued to plunge in February, by close to 27% to 11,721 units from 15,994 units a year earlier, on particularly weak export volumes. Sales in the first two months of the year were almost 33% lower at 25,414 units from 37,841 units.

Domestic sales fell by over 8% to 4,923 units in February from 5,353 units, while year-to-date sales were more than 14% lower at 10,097 units from 11,755 units. Exports fell by over 36% to 6,798 units last month from 10,641 units a year earlier and by over 41% to 15,317 units year-to-date from 26,086 units.

Ssangyong Motor, majority-owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 4.3% rise in built-up vehicle sales to 9,481 units in February from 9,090 units a year earlier thanks mainly to strong domestic demand. In the first two months of the year the brand’s sales rose by 6.1% to 20,469 units from 19,295 units previously.

Domestic sales rose by 7.2% to 7,579 units from 7,070 units, driven by strong demand for the Rexton Sports SUV range. The company launched the new Korando model this month which should help further strengthen sales this year. Year-to-date domestic sales were 11% higher at 16,366 units compared with 14,745 units previously.

Exports rose by 12% to 2,262 units in February from 2,020 units a year earlier and by to 4,895 units year-to-date from 4,550 units.

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