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December 2, 2021updated 10 Dec 2021 10:20am

South Korean sales fall 14% in November

Supply chain issues easing but semiconductors still short and resurging pandemic is a concern.

By Graeme Roberts

Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined declined by over 14% to 123,136 units in November 2021 from 143,591 units a year earlier, according to preliminary data released individually by the companies.

The data did not include sales by South Korea’s low-volume commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Tata-Daewoo and Edison Motors, as well as sales of imported vehicles which are covered in a separate report.

The year on year decline was less severe than in previous months, with local manufacturers pointing to a gradual easing of supply chain bottlenecks since September. Output continued to be affected by the global shortage of semiconductors, however, while sales activity was still held back by the recent resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has extended the discounted 3.5% vehicle sales tax rate, down from 5%, until the end of the year to help support the local market.

All vehicle manufacturers suffered sharp falls in domestic sales last month, with Hyundai reporting an 11% decline to 62,071 and Kia a 22% drop to 222,232 units. Renault Samsung’s sales were down by 15% at 6,129 units while Ssangyong’s sales dropped 32% to 6,277 units. GM Korea was again the worst performing brand, with sales plunging 60% to 6,556 units.

Overall domestic sales in the first 11 months of the year were down by almost 19% at 1,197,789 units from 1,473,910 units in the same period of 2020.

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Global sales among the country’s big five automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, declined by 16% to 567,629 units in November 2021 from 674,725 year earlier sales with the global shortage of semiconductors and the recent surge in coronavirus infections affecting production and sales domestically and overseas. Total vehicle sales YTD were still up by 4% at 6,526,693 from 6,284,608 units previously.

Overseas sales fell 16% to 444,493 units last month from 531,134 units a year earlier, while YTD volume was still 11% higher at 5,328,904 units from 4,810,698 units after demand in markets such as Europe, the Americas and Russia rebounded strongly earlier in the year from depressed 2020 levels.

Hyundai Motor global sales dropped by 17% to 312,602 vehicles in November from 377,193 units a year earlier, reflecting declining domestic and overseas sales as the global shortage of semiconductors continued to affect production. Global sales YTD were still up 5% at 3,552,180 units from 3,369,544 units in the same period of last year, driven by strong sales of upmarket Genesis SUVs earlier in the year.

Domestic sales declined by over 11% to 62,071 units last month from 70,035 units a year earlier, while YTD sales were down by 8% at 660,726 units from 719,368 units.

The company said volume was impacted by the recent surge in coronavirus infections as well as by supply chain shortages.

Overseas sales fell by over 18% to 250,531 in November from 307,158 a year earlier, with deliveries in India falling by 24% and in the US by 20%, while the YTD tally was still up by over 9% at 2,891,454 units from 2,650,176 units driven by rebounding demand in North and South America, Europe and Russia earlier in the year.

Hyundai warned last September its global sales would continue to slow in the fourth quarter due to the recent surge in coronavirus infections and the ongoing semiconductor shortage, threatening its full year sales target of an 11% increase to 4.16m units from last year’s 3.74m. It added the overall production bottlenecks have lessened since September, however. The company said it would continue to prioritise sales of its Ioniq 5 EV and the Genesis brand in the fourth quarter,

Kia global sales fell by over 13% to 222,232 vehicles in November from 256,215 units a year earlier, reflecting falling domestic and overseas sales which the company blamed on the continued semiconductor shortage. Total volume YTD was still up 7% at 2,559,727 units from 2,389,414 units a year earlier, with the Sportage SUV its best selling model globally.

The company said in October it did not expect to reach its full year global sales target of 2.92m units due to the ongoing parts shortage.

Domestic sales dropped by 9% to 46,042 units last month from 50,523 units a year earlier and were down by 5% at 486,227 units year to date from 513,542 units despite strong demand for the Sportage and Sorento SUVs and the Carnival MPV.

Overseas sales fell by over 14% to 176,190 units in November from 205,692 a year earlier, while the YTD total was still up by over 10% at 2,073,500 units from 1,875,872 units, driven by rebounding demand in Europe and North America earlier in the year.

GM Korea global sales plunged by almost 43% to 12,274 vehicles in November from 21,384 units a year earlier, with the continued global semiconductor shortage affecting both domestic and export sales. Year to date, the company’s global sales declined by 30% to 225,513 units from 321,736 units.

Domestic sales plunged by 60% to 2,617 units last month from 6,556 units a year earlier and were down by 30% at 51,773 units YTD from 73,632 units. The company said last month it planned to strengthen its local range with the launch of 10 EV models by 2025 which it will import from North America.

Exports plunged 35% to 9,657 units in November from 14,828 units and 30% to 162,083 YTD from 233,276 units.

Renault-Samsung saw its global sales surge more than 45% to 11,743 units in November from weak year earlier sales of 8,074 units, reflecting a strong rebound in overseas sales. YTD, global sales were just over 6% at 113,922 units from 107,151 units previously.

Domestic sales continued to fall last month, by 15% to 6,129 units from 7,207 units a year earlier and were down by 39% at 53,914 YTD from 87,929 units, as the automaker faced increasingly tough competition from domestic rivals Hyundai and Kia and from imports.

Exports continued to rebound strongly in November, with volume surging to 5,614 units from 867 a year earlier as the company stepped up shipments of the XM3 and QM6 SUVs to Europe. YTD, exports were up threefold at 60,008 units from 19,222 units.

Ssangyong Motor global sales fell 26% to 8,778 vehicles in November from 11,859 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp decline in domestic sales Total volume was down 22% at 75,351 units YTD from 96,763 previously.

Domestic sales fell 32% to 6,277 units last month from 9,270 a year earlier and by 33% to 53,367 YTD from 79,439. Exports plunged 3.4% to 2,501 units in November from 2,589 but were up 27% at 22,014 YTD from 17,324 units.

The Seoul Bankruptcy Court in October declared local electric vehicle manufacturer Edison Motors as the sole preferred bidder for the bankrupt automaker and a formal offer from the company was expected to be made soon after it completed its due diligence.

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