Domestic sales by South Korea’s five largest automakers combined rebounded by over 24% to 139,557 units in October from 112,332 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 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.
Last month’s strong market rebound came against a backdrop of weak year earlier volumes when deliveries were held back by the annual Chuseok holiday week. Most businesses in the country, including vehicle assembly plants, shut down for the entire week, affecting both domestic sales and exports. This year, these holidays fell in September instead of October as in 2017.
All brands reported higher sales in October, including the two largest – Hyundai and Kia – which reported rises of 25% to 66,288 units and 23% to 46,100 units respectively. Ssangyong enjoyed the strongest rebound, of 36% to 10,082 units, while Renault-Samsung sales were 24% higher at 8,814 units and GM Korea was up by 8% at 8,273 units.
Overall domestic sales declined by 0.8% to 1,266,818 units in the first 10 months of the year compared with 1,277,026 units in the same period of last year.
Global sales by the country’s ‘big-five’ automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, rose by 3.8%% to 730,985 units in October from 704,307 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply higher domestic sales. Total volume in the first 10 months of the year (YTD) was up by just 0.6% to 6,758730 units from 6,721,378 units previously.
Overseas sales, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, were marginally lower at 591,428 units last month from 591,975 units a year earlier and were just 1% higher at 5,492,488 units year to date compared with 5,437,549 units previously.
Hyundai Motor’s global sales rose by 0.9% to 408,160 units in October from 404,321 units a year earlier, reflecting much stronger domestic sales. YTD volume was also higher, up by 2.6% to 3,770,916 units from 3,676,528 units previously.
Domestic sales rebounded strongly last month, by 25% to 66,288 units from weak year earlier sales of 53,102 units, after the week long Chuseok holidays in September. Sales were 3.6% higher at 592,112 units YTD from 571,683 units previously, helped by the recent launch of the new Santa Fe and facelifted Tucson SUVs.
Overseas sales remained negative last month with deliveries falling by 2.7% to 341,872 units from 351,309 units a year earlier, with sales in India almost 5% higher and largely unchanged in the US. YTD overseas sales were still 2.4% higher at 3,178,804 units from 3,104,845 units a year earlier – mostly reflecting recovering demand in China and buoyant sales in India and Europe.
Kia Motors’ global sales increased 4.2% to 250,294 units in October from 240,125 units a year earlier, reflecting mainly a strong rebound in domestic sales. YTD, the brand’s overall sales were 2.7% higher at 2,323,772 units from 2,262,346 units previously.
Domestic sales jumped by almost 23% to 46,100 units last month from depressed year earlier sales of 37,521 units. Sales in September had dropped by 25% due to the annual week long holidays. In the first 10 months of the year, Kia’s domestic sales were 3.5% higher at 440,800 units compared with 426,021 units a year earlier, lifted by the recent launch of the K3 (Forte) sedan and the Stonic compact SUV.
Overseas sales were up by 0.8% at 204,194 units in October from 202,604 units a year earlier and by 2.5% at 1,882,972 units YTD from 1,836,325 units previously, lifted by strong demand for the Sportage and Stonic SUVs and the K3. The roll out of the Niro electric vehicle and K9 executive sedan should help maintain positive sales momentum overseas.
GM Korea‘s global sales rebounded by 17.2% to 40,477 units in October from 34,535 units a year earlier, reflecting strong sales at home and overseas after a sharp drop in September. Sales YTD were still 13.3% lower at 413,199 units compared with 476,601 units in the same period of 2017.
Domestic sales rose by 7.8% to 8,273 units last month from 7,672 a year earlier, but were more than 32% lower at 74,595 units YTD from 110,176 units previously despite the launch of the US made Equinox SUV and the facelifted Spark small 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 rebounded strongly in October, by almost 20% to 32,204 units from 26,863 units a year earlier, but were still 7.6% lower at 338,604 units YTD from 366,425 units previously.
Renault-Samsung‘s global sales fell by 5.4% to 18,630 units in October from 19,694 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower export sales. Overall sales YTD were more than 15% lower at 190,525 units compared with 224,534 units previously.
Domestic sales jumped by 24% to 8,814 units last month from 7,110 units a year earlier, but were still 13.5% lower at 71,157 units YTD from 82,280 units previously. Sales in recent months have been hit by the emergence of quality and safety issues with the QM series models, according to local reports. Last month the company added the [Renault] Master commercial van to its line-up, taking on the Hyundai H1.
Exports continued to plunge last month, by 22% to 9,816 units from 12,584 units a year earlier, resulting in year to date exports falling by 16% to 119,368 units from 142,254 units previously.
Ssangyong Motor, majority-owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, reported an more than 24% jump in built up vehicle sales to 13,352 units in October from 10,744 units a year earlier – reflecting sharply higher domestic sales. The brand’s global sales in the first 10 months of the year were still 2.2% lower at 114,788 units from 117,395 units previously.
Domestic sales jumped by 36% to 10,082 units in last month from 7,414 units a year earlier and were up by 1% at 88,154 units YTD from 87,261 units, supported by strong demand for the Rexton Sports SUV.
Exports increased just slightly in October, 0.4% to 3,342 units from 3,330 units a year earlier, but were 11.6% lower at 26,634 units YTD from 30,134 units previously.