Domestic sales by South Korea's five largest automakers combined fell by over 17.5% to 110,130 vehicles in September from 133,551 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 low-volume commercial vehicle manufacturers, including Tata-Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation, which typically account for less than 1% of the domestic vehicle market.

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

The sharp market decline last month was blamed largely on the annual Chuseok holiday week which this year fell at the end of September instead of October as in last year. Most businesses in the country, including vehicle assembly plants, shut down for a week – affecting both domestic sales and exports.

All brands reported sharply lower sales in September, including the two largest - Hyundai and Kia – which reported declines of over 12% to 52,494 units and 25% to 38,300 units respectively. Ssangyong's sales declined by 19% to 7,689 units; while GM Korea's were 17% lower at 7,434 units; and Renault-Samsungs slipped by 8.8% to 6,713 units. 

Overall domestic sales declined by 3.2% to 1,127,261 units in the first nine months of the year compared with 1,164,694 units in the same period of last year.

Global sales among by the country's 'big five' automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 8.5% to 678,738 units in September from 741,486 units a year earlier, reflecting weaker deliveries both at home and abroad. Total volume in the first nine months of the year was up by just 0.2% at 6,027,745 units from 6,017,071 units previously.

Overseas sales, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 6.5% to 568,608 units last month from 607,935 units a year earlier and were just slightly higher at 4,901,060 units year to date compared with 4,845,574. 

Hyundai Motor's global sales fell by 6.6% to 384,833 units in September from 412,150 units a year earlier, reflecting lower deliveries both at home and abroad. Year to date volume was still 2.7% higher at 3,360,113 units from 3,272,207 units previously.

Domestic sales fell by 12.1% to 52,494 units last month from 59,714 units a year earlier, reflecting the week long holiday shut down in the country, but were still 1.4% higher at 525,824 units in the first nine months of the year from 518,671 units previously.

Hyundai's overseas sales were also affected by last month's extended holidays, with deliveries falling by 6.6% to 332,339 units from 352,436 units a year earlier, while cumulative nine month sales were 2.9% higher at 2,834,289 units from 2,753,536 units a year earlier mostly reflecting recovering demand in China.

Kia Motors' global sales fell by 6.4% to 233,708 units in September from 249,722 units a year earlier, mostly reflecting a sharp drop in domestic sales due to the annual Chuseok holidays. In the first nine months of the year overall sales were 2.7% higher at 2,077,100 units from 2,022,200 units previously.

Domestic sales plunged by over 25% to 35,800 units last month from 48,019 units a year earlier, making it the worst performing domestic brand. In the first nine months of the year, domestic sales were just 1.6% higher at 394,700 units compared with 388,590 units previously, despite the recent launch of new models including the K9 luxury flagship, the Stonic compact SUV and the new K3 compact sedan. 

Overseas sales declined by 1.9% to 197,908 units in September from 201,703 units a year earlier while year to date sales were 5.0% higher at 1,675,316 units compared with 1,596,203 units. 

GM Korea's global sales fell by 13.5% to 34,816 units in September from 40,264 units a year earlier, reflecting sharp declines both in its home market and overseas. Sales in the first nine months of the year were more than 15% lower at 341,349 units compared with 401,980 units in the same period of 2017.

Domestic sales fell by over 17% to 7,434 units last month from 8,991 units a year earlier, and by over 35% to 66,322 units year to date from 102,504 units previously, despite the launch of the US made Equinox SUV and the facelifted Spark mini car in June.

Overall, the brand is struggling to keep up with new products from Hyundai and Kia while confidence has also been undermined by the company's struggle to avoid bankruptcy earlier in the year.

GM Korea has pledged to launch 15 new models domestically over the next five years, after its main shareholders injected fresh capital in the company and approved a broad cost cutting programme in April.

Exports fell by almost 12% to 27,382 units in September from 31,273 units a year earlier and were 8.2% lower at 275,027 units year to date from 299,476 units previously.

Renault-Samsung's global sales fell by over 44% to 14,582 units in September from 26,182 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower domestic and export sales. Overall sales in the first nine months of the year were almost 16% lower at 171,898 units compared with 204,840 units previously.

Domestic sales fell by 8.8% to 6,713 units last month from 7,362 units a year earlier and were more than 17% lower at 62,343 units year to date from 75,170 units previously. Sales in recent months have been hit by the emergence of quality and safety issues with its QM series models which has led to a fall in demand, according to local reports.

Exports plunged by over 58% to 7,869 in September from 18,820 units a year earlier and were 15.5% lower at 109,555 units year to date from 129,668 units previously.

Ssangyong Motor, majority-owned by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, reported an 18% fall in built-up vehicle sales to 10,799 units in September from 13,168 units a year earlier – reflecting sharply lower deliveries at home and declining exports.
Global sales in the first nine months of the year were 4.9% lower at 101,436 units from 106,651 units previously.

Domestic sales dropped by 18.8% to 7,689 units in September from 9,465 units a year earlier and by 2.2% to 78,072 units year to date from 79,847 units.

Exports declined by 16% to 3,110 units last month from 3,703 units and by 9.8% to 24,174 units year to date from 26,804 units previously.

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

South Korea carmakers, H2 monthly and YTD 2018 sales

Automaker Domestic JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberOverseas* JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberGlobal JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberYear to date
Kia 47000442003580046100487001838781794481979082041941984152308782236482337082502942471152567155
GM Korea (Chevrolet)9000739174348273829428046157102738232204303273704623101348164047738621420447

Source:, industry sources. * excludes CKD exports