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December 3, 2018

South Korean sales flat in November, exports drop

Domestic sales by South Korea's five largest automakers combined rose by just 0.3% to 139,862 units in November from 140,132 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 combined rose by just 0.3% to 139,862 units in November from 140,132 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, 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 14% 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 lacklustre market performance reflected a slowdown in economic growth in recent months with investment and construction sector activity in the country falling sharply in the third quarter. At the end of November the central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in a year, by 25 basis points to 1.75%, to bring rates closer to those in the US. 

Hyundai reported a slight sales rise last month, of 0.4% to 64,131 units, while Kia’s sales were slightly lower at 48,700 units. Ssangyong’s enjoyed the strongest growth, of close to 18% to 10,330 units, and Renault-Samsung’s sales were just over 1% higher at 8,407 units, while GM Korea saw its deliveries plunge by 20% to 8,294 units.

Overall domestic sales declined by 0.7% to 1,406,680 units in the first 11 months of the year compared with 1,417,158 units in the same period of last year.

Global sales among the country’s ‘big five’ automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 5% to 720,892 units in November from 758,494 units a year earlier – reflecting falling overseas sales. Total volumes in the first 11 months of the year were up by just 0.4% at 7.51 million units from 7.48m previously.

Overseas sales, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 6% to 581,030 units last month from 618,152 units a year earlier, with sales in China falling once again after a rebound earlier  in the year, and were just 0.3% higher at 6,073,518 units year to date compared with 6,055,701 units previously.

Hyundai Motor‘s global vehicle sales fell by 4.2% to 403,381 units in November from 421,110 units a year earlier, reflecting a slowdown in overseas sales. Year to date volumes were still higher by 1.9% at 4,174,297 units from 4,096,332 units previously.

Domestic sales were just slightly positive last month, by 0.4% at 64,131 units from 63,895 units a year earlier, after a strong rebound in October following the annual Chuseok holidays in September. Sales were 3.3% higher at 656,243 units in the first 11 months of the year from 635,578 units previously, helped by the recent launch of the new Santa Fe and face-lifted Tucson SUVs.

Hyundai’s overseas sales declined by just over 5% to 339,250 units last month from 357,215 units a year earlier, due mainly to falling deliveries in China and the US.  Cumulative 11 month overseas sales were still 1.6% higher at 3,518,8054 units from 3,462,060 units a year earlier – thanks mainly to a rebound in China sales earlier in the year and buoyant sales in India and Europe.

Kia Motors‘ global sales fell by 3.8% to 247,115 units in November from 257,000 units a year earlier, mainly reflecting weak overseas sales. In the first 11 months of the year the brand’s overall sales were 2.0% higher at 2,570,884 units from 2,519,346 units previously. 

Domestic sales declined by 0.7% to 48,700 units last month from 49,027 units a year earlier, after a strong rebound in the previous month. In the first 11 months of the year Kia’s domestic sales were just over 3.0% higher at 489,500 units compared with 475,048 units a year earlier, lifted by the recent launch of the K3 sedan and the Stonic compact SUV.

Overseas sales fell by 4.6% to 198,415 units in November from 207,973 units a year earlier, reflecting mainly weaker demand in China. Overseas sales were still up by 1.8% at 2,081,387 units year to date from 2,044,298 units previously, lifted by strong demand for the Sportage and Stonic SUVs and the Forte (K3) sedan.

GM Korea‘s global sales fell by 9.2% to 38,621 units in November from 42,543 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp drop in domestic sales and also weaker sales overseas. Sales in the first 11 months of the year were 12.2% lower at 420,447 units compared with 479,058 units in the same period of 2017.

Domestic sales plunged by close to 20% to 8,294 units last month from 10,349 units a year earlier and were more than 31% lower at 82,889 units year to date from 120,525 units previously, as the brand struggled to keep up with new model launches from its larger domestic rivals Hyundai and Kia. 

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

It launched the US-made Equinox SUV and the facelifted Spark minicar in June, followed by the Malibu mid-size sedan in November, with the Traverse SUV set to follow shortly. 

Exports fell by 5.8% to 30,327 units in November from 32,194 units a year and by 5.8% to 337,558 units year to date from 358,533 units previously.

Renault-Samsung‘s global sales fell by close to 28% to 18,601 vehicles in November from 25,759 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower export sales. Overall sales in the first 11 months of the year were more than 19% lower at 209,126 units from 250,293 units previously.

Domestic sales rose by 1.3% to 8,407 units last month from 8,302 units a year ago, but were more than 12% lower at 79,564 units year to date from 90,582 units previously. The company added the Master commercial van to its lineup in October, rivalling the Hyundai H1, followed by the Twizy small electric vehicle last month.

Exports plunged by 42% to 10,194 units in November from 17,457 units a year earlier, resulting in an almost 19% fall in year to date sales to 129,562 units from 159,711 units previously.

Ssangyong Motor, majority-owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 7.8% rise in built up vehicle sales to 13,030 units in November from 12,082 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply higher domestic sales. The brand’s global sales in the first 11 months of the year were still down by 1.3% at 127,818 units from 129,477 units a year earlier.

Domestic sales jumped by close to 18% to 10,330 units in last month from 8,769 units a year earlier and were up by 2.6% at 98,484 units year-to-date from 96,030 units, supported by strong demand for the Rexton Sports SUV.

Exports fell by 14% to 2,844 units in November from 3,313 units a year earlier and by over 12% at 29,334 units year to date from 33,417 units previously.

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