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March 3, 2022updated 10 Mar 2022 10:54am

South Korean sales rise 2% in February

Semiconductor supply is easing.

By Graeme Roberts

Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined increased by 2% to 103,274 units in February 2022 from 101,356 units a year earlier, according to preliminary wholesale 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.

Most vehicle manufacturers reported improving supplies of semiconductors last month, helping to increase overall output and sales. Domestic vehicle market activity also began to normalise after the disruption from the recent surge in coronavirus infections in the country.

The two largest local manufacturers, Hyundai and Kia, reported moderate rebounds in domestic sales last month, of 2% to 53,010 units and 5% to 39,560 units respectively, after posting sharp declines in January.

Ssangyong said its sales jumped by 70% to 4,540 units as operations began to normalise following the finalisation of the acquisition agreement with Edison Motors. Renault Samsung saw its sales fall by 5% to 3,718 units, while GM Korea’s sales continued to plunge – by 52% to 2,446 units.

Cumulative two-month sales were still down by over 9% at 197,174 units from 217,626 in the same period of last year, reflecting a 19% decline in January.

Global sales among the country’s “big-five” automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, increased by over 4% to 567,181 units in February from 544,823 units a year earlier after falling by 11% in January due to tight semiconductor supplies and disruption from the latest covid outbreak. Cumulative two-month global sales were still down by 4.5% at 1,096,029 units from 1,147,933 previously.

Overseas sales rebounded by nearly 5% to 465,907 units in February from 443,467 a year earlier, helped by strong demand in Europe, Middle East and the US. In the first two months of the year, overseas sales were more than 3% lower at 898,855 units from 930,338 units previously, reflecting a 10% drop in January.

Hyundai Motor global sales increased by 1.4% to 304,613 vehicles in February 2022 from 300,514 a year earlier, the first year-on-year increase in eight months as semiconductor supplies began to improve. Both domestic and overseas sales performed positively last month, helped by strong demand for models such as the Ioniq 5, Stavia MPV and Genesis GV60 Electric. In the first two months of the year, global sales were still 5.5% lower at 587,269 units from 621,582 a year earlier, following a 12% decline in January.

Domestic sales increased by 1.7% to 53,010 units last month from 52,102 a year earlier, while two-month sales were still down by over 11% at 99,215 from 111,603 units. Overseas sales increased by 1.3% to 251,603 from 248,412 units, lifted by strong rebounds in Europe, US and the Middle East, while sales in the first two months of the year were still down by over 4% at 488,054 from 509,979 units.

Hyundai expects its global sales to rise by over 11% to 4,323,000 vehicles in 2022, driven by a 13.5% rise in overseas sales to 3,591,000 units and a slight rise in domestic sales to 732,00 units. The automaker said it will “minimize the impact of business uncertainties such as the global chip shortage, by optimizing production, diversifying business strategies tailored for each region and launch new battery electric models including the electrified GV70 and IONIQ 6 this year”.

Kia global sales rose by almost 5% to 221,152 vehicles in February from 211,314 a year earlier, helped by strong demand for the new EV6 sedan and Sportage SUV, while disruption resulting from the global semiconductor shortage began to ease. In the first two months of the year its global sales were down just slightly 434,392 units from 437,047 a year earlier after a 6% drop in January.

Domestic sales rose by over 5% to 39,560 units last month from 37,583 a year earlier but were still down by over 3% at 76,598 units year-to-date from 79,064, following an 11% fall in January. Overseas sales increased by 4.5% year-on-year to 181,592 units in February from 173,731, while year-to-date sales were flat at 357,373 units compared with 357,983 units.

In January the automaker said it expected its global sales to grow by 14% to 3.15 million unit in 2022, including 562,000 domestic sales and 2.59 million units overseas, helped by new models such as the EV6 GT and the all-new Niro.

GM Korea global sales fell by 19% to 22,851 vehicles in February from 28,246 a year earlier, reflecting weaker domestic and overseas sales as the automaker continued to struggle with the global semiconductor shortage. Cumulative two-month sales were down by 44% at 35,762 units from 64,371 units previously, following a 64% plunge in January.

Domestic sales continue to plummet in February, by 52% to 2,446 units year-on-year from 5,098 units, and by 66% to 3,790 year-to-date from 11,204 units. Exports dropped by 12% to 20,405 from 23,148 units last month, while cumulative volumes fell by 18% to 43,539 from 53,168 units.

GM Korea last month added a new high spec variant to its imported Traverse SUV line to help strengthen local sales and said it will begin importing the Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV and the GMC Sierra pickup truck later this year. A spokesman confirmed the company would “focus on producing compact SUVs such as the Trax in South Korea and bring in large-sized SUVs from the US as part of a ‘two-track’ SUV strategy”.

In December the company said it would launch 10 new electric vehicle models in South Korea by 2025, all of which would be imported from North America.

Renault-Samsung saw its global sales jump by almost 57% to 11,513 vehicles in February from weak year earlier sales of 7,344 units, reflecting a continued strong rebound in overseas sales. Global sales were up by 84% at 24,827 units year-to-date from 13,496 units previously.

Domestic sales fell by almost 5% to 3,718 units in February from 3,900 a year earlier but were still up by over 10% year-to-date at 8,195 from 7,434 units. Exports continued to surge last month, to 7,795 units from 2,618 units a year earlier, while cumulative volumes were up by 174% at 16,632 from 6,062 units as the company continued to step up shipments of the XM3 and QM6 SUVs to Europe.

Ssangyong Motor global sales more than doubled to 7,052 vehicles in February from depressed year-earlier sales of 2,789 units, reflecting a strong rebound in domestic and overseas sales. Cumulative two-month sales were up by almost 28% at 14,592 units from 11,437 a year earlier.

Domestic sales surged by 70% to 4,540 units in February from 2,673 a year earlier, as confidence in the brand began to return after the company’s acquisition by Edison Motor was finalised in January. In the first two months of the year domestic sales were up by 13% at 9,376 units from 8,321 previously.

Exports jumped to 2,512 units in February from 116 units a year earlier and were up by 69% at 5,306 year-to-date from 3,146 units.

In January Ssangyong began taking pre-orders for its first electric vehicle, the Korando e-Motion subcompact SUV, fitted with a 51kWh lithium-ion battery pack supplied by LG Energy Solution.

GM Korea2,44620,40522,851
Sources: from industry sources.

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