Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined increased by just over 25% to 138,530 units in September 2020 from 110,654 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 the data is released later in the month. Together these accounted for 14% of total vehicle sales in the country last year.
The market last month rebounded strongly after a 6% decline in August, driven by strong demand for the numerous new models launched by leading brands in the last year and underpinned by the 30% discount on the passenger vehicle sales tax available until the end of the year.
Leading domestic brands enjoyed strong sales increases last month, led by Hyundai which reported a jump of almost 34% year on year to 67,080 units, while Kia sales surged by close to 22% to 51,211 units. GM Korea sales rose by almost 18% to 6,097 units and Ssangyong volume increased by 13% to 8,208 units. Renault-Samsung was the only company to report a decline, of over 24% to 5,934 units.
In the first nine months of 2020, domestic sales by the big five automakers increased by 7.1% to 1,194,887 units from 1,115,305 units in the same period of last year, with the market having fully recovered from the first quarter declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Global sales by the country’s big-five automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, rose by 3.4% to 678,549 units in September from 655,968 units a year earlier, reflecting a strong surge in domestic sales. Global sales in the first nine months of the year were still down by close to 16% at 4,903,445 units from 5,813,658 in the same period of last year.
Overseas sales, including exports and vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by less than 1% to 540,019 units last month from 545,314 units a year earlier, with sales in key markets such as China and US beginning to recover after sharp declines earlier in the year. Overseas sales in the first nine months of the year were still down by close to 21% at 3,708,558 units from 4,698,353 units in the same period of last year.
Hyundai Motor global sales fell by 5.3% to 360,762 vehicles in September from 380,910 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower overseas sales, resulting in a 19.4% drop in cumulative nine-month sales to 2,604,205 units from 3,229,669 units previously.
Domestic sales jumped by almost 34% to 67,080 units last month from 50,139 units a year earlier, reflecting strong demand for popular models such as the Grandeur and Sonata sedans and the Palisade flagship SUV.
The new generation Avante compact car, launched in June, is also helping to lift local demand. Domestic sales in the first nine of the year were 6.6% higher at 583,664 units from 547,435 units previously.
New models scheduled to be launched this month include the Tucson SUV and the face-lifted G70 sedan sold under the upmarket Genesis brand.
Overseas sales fell by over 11% to 293,682 units in September from 330,771 units a year earlier, with recovering demand in the US and China offset by continued weakness in other overseas markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first nine months of the year Hyundai overseas sales were down by over 24% at 2,020,541 units from 2,682,234 units previously.
Kia Motors global sales rose by just over 10% to 260,023 units in September from 235,810 units a year earlier, reflecting strong sales at home and abroad – driven by strong demand for SUVs such as the Sportage. Total sales were down by just under 9% at 1,863,966 units in the first nine months of the year from 2,043,780 units previously.
Domestic sales jumped by almost 22% to 51,211 units last month from 42,005 units a year earlier, while the cumulative nine month total was up by 10.6% at 415,011 from 375,317 units driven by strong demand for the Sportage and the recently revised Seltos models. In the fourth quarter of the year Kia plans to launch the redesigned Carnival minivan, Sorento SUV and K5 midsize sedan.
Overseas sales increased by 7.7% to 208,812 units in September from 193,805 a year earlier, with new models helping to offset weak demand in key export markets. Sales in key markets such as the US and China are also beginning to recover. Overseas sales in the first nine months of the year were still down by over 12% at 1,625,075 from 1,853,842 units previously. To help drive its overseas recovery Kia plans to roll out the new Soul Box and Seltos models in global markets in the fourth quarter.
GM Korea global sales jumped by almost 90% to 40,544 vehicles in September from 21,393 in the same month of last year, driven mainly by sharply higher overseas sales. In the first nine months of the year, global sales were still 13% lower at 268,961 units from 308,933 units in the same period of last year.
Domestic sales rose by almost 18% to 6,097 units last month from 5,171 a year earlier, driven by strong demand for the Spark minicar and the locally made Trailblazer SUV. Local sales in the first nine months of the year were more than 11% higher at 60,075 units from 53,934 units previously.
Exports more than doubled to 34,447 units in September from 16,222 units a year earlier, but were down by almost 18% at 208,886 units in the first nine months of the year from 254,999 units previously.
In June General Motors reconfirmed its commitment to the South Korean market, saying it would make increasing use of generous zero emission vehicle sales incentives starting with the launch of the recent launch of the new generation Bolt electric vehicle.
Ssangyong Motor, majority-owned by Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a more than 4% drop in global sales to 9,834 units in September from 10,285 units a year earlier, reflecting weak export sales. Overall sales in the first nine months of the year were down by over 24% at 74,707 units from 98,987 units in the same period of last year.
Domestic sales rose by over 13% to 8,208 units last month from 7,235 units a year earlier, although volume year to date was still 22% lower at 62,557 units from 79,930 units previously. The company launched the facelifted Tivoli Air SUV in the local market this week to help underpin sales.
Exports plunged by almost 47% to 1,626 in September from 3,050 units a year earlier and by almost 42% to 12,212 units year to date from 21,001 units, despite the launch of the new entry level 1.2-litre Tivoli SUV in Europe in April.
The company has struggled with mounting losses for some years and its performance has deteriorated further this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The parent company in August reiterated its stated intention to sell its controlling stake in Ssangyong to a new strategic investor but no news has emerged so far of any bid.
Renault-Samsung, 81% owned by Renault, saw its global sales fall by over 51% to 7,386 vehicles in September from 15,208 units in the same month of last year, reflecting sharp declines in both domestic sales and exports. Total volume in the first nine months of the year fell by close to 30% to 91,544 units from 129,913 units previously.
Domestic sales fell by over 24% to 5,934 units last month from 7,817 units a year earlier, despite the recent launch of the revised SM6 sedan and the new XM3 SUV. Local sales were still up by almost 22% at 73,581 units year to date from 60,402 units previously.
Exports plunged by over 80% to 1,452 units in September from 7,391 a year earlier, reflecting mainly the discontinuation of export orders for the Rogue SUV from Nissan Motor. Export volume in the first nine months of the year was down by over 74% at 17,766 units from 68,974 units.