Recent Hyundai model launches include Palisade SUV

Recent Hyundai model launches include Palisade SUV

Domestic sales by South Korea's five main automakers combined increased by 5.3% to 143,591 units in November 2020 from 136,414 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 South Korean market continued to benefit from a strong pipeline of new models from the leading brands and also from a 30% sales tax discount introduced in June until the end of the year.

Hyundai Motor Group continued to drive the market forward in November with the Hyundai brand reporting an 11% sales increase to 70,035 units while Kia sales increased by close to 4% to 50,523 units despite strike action at its plants in the last week of the month. 

Ssangyong sales were just slightly higher at 9,270 units last month while GM Korea – which was also affected by strike action - saw deliveries fall by 10% to 6,556 units. Renault Samsung continued to struggle with sales falling by 11% to 7,207 units.

In the first 11 months of 2020 domestic sales by the big five automakers increased by 6.3% to 1,473,973 units from 1,386,614 units in the same period of last year, with the market having fully recovered from the first quarter decline triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global sales by the 'big-five' automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by over 5% to 674,040 units in November from 710,466 units a year earlier - reflecting lower overseas sales. Global sales year to date were down by over 13% at 6,279,387 units from 7,232,728 units in the same period of last year.

Overseas sales, including exports and vehicles produced overseas, fell by 7.6% to 530,449 units last month from 574,052 units a year earlier, with recovering demand in key markets such as China and India offset by weakness elsewhere including the US. Overseas sales YTD were still down by almost 18% at 4,804,294 units from 5,845,916 units in the same period of last year.

Hyundai Motor global sales fell by 4.3% to 376,704 vehicles in November from 393,694 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower overseas sales. Sales in the first 11 months of the year were down by just over 16% at 3,369,055 units from 4,026,075 units previously.

Domestic sales continued to surge last month, by almost 11% to 70,035 units from 63,160 units a year earlier after strong growth in previous months, reflecting strong demand for new SUV models such as the Palisade and Tucson as well as for the recently launched Avante compact sedan. The company said new Genesis models such as the G80 sedan and GV80 SUV also performed strongly. Domestic sales YTD were more than 6% higher at 719,368 units from 675,507 units.

Overseas sales fell by over 7% to 306,669 units in November from 330,534 units a year earlier, with recovering demand in China and India more than offset by continued weak sales elsewhere, including a 9% drop in US sales. YTD, Hyundai overseas sales were down by almost 21% at 2,649,687 units from 3,350,568 units.

Kia Motors global sales rose by just over 2% to 256,019 vehicles in November from 250,952 units a year earlier, reflecting higher domestic and overseas sales, driven by strong demand for newly launched SUVs. The rate of growth was held back by partial strikes at its domestic plants in the final week of the month, however. Total sales in the first 11 months of the year were down by over 6% at 2,385,870 units from 2,545,247 units in the same period of last year.

Domestic sales rose by just under 4% to 50,523 units last month from 48,615 units a year earlier. The cumulative 11 month total was up by just over 9% at 513,543 from 471,075 units, driven by strong demand for the Sportage, the recently revised Seltos and the newly launched Carnival. New models due out in the fourth quarter include the Sorento SUV and K5 midsize sedan.

Overseas sales increased by less than 2% to 205,496 units in November from 202,337 units a year earlier, with new models helping to offset weak demand in key export markets. Sales in key markets such as China are beginning to recover. Overseas sales YTD were still down by over 9% at 2,048,276 units from 2,259,551 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 plunged by almost 46% to 21,384 vehicles in November from 39,317 units a year earlier, reflecting sharply lower overseas sales and also weaker domestic deliveries. In the first 11 months of 2020 the company's global sales were down by 15% at 321,736 units from 378,408 units previously.

Production at domestic plants was held back by strike action last month over wages. Domestic sales declined by over 10% to 6,556 units as a result from 7,323 a year earlier, but were almost 9% higher at 73,695 units in the first 11 months of the year compared with 67,651 units previously – reflecting higher demand for the Spark minicar and the Trailblazer and Traverse SUVs.

Exports increased by 2.4% to 14,828 units in November from 31,994 units a year earlier, but were down by over 20% at 248,041 units YTD from 310,757 units.

Ssangyong Motor reported a more than 10% increase in global sales to 11,859 units in November from 10,754 units a year earlier, reflecting rebounding export sales. Overall sales in the first 11 months of the year were down by over 19% at 96,763 units from 119,876 units in the same period of last year.

Domestic sales were slightly higher at 9,270 units last month from 9,240 units a year earlier, supported by the recent launch of the facelifted Tivoli Air SUV, but were down by over 18% at 79,439 units YTD from 97,215 units.

Exports jumped by 71% to 2,589 units in November from 1,514 units a year earlier, but were still down by over 29% at 17,386 units YTD from 24,605 units. The company said it would continue to launch upgraded models, including a facelifted G4 Rexton, to help underpin overseas sales.

The company has struggled with mounting losses for some years and its performance has deteriorated significantly this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its Indian parent company Mahindra & Mahindra 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 a potential bid.

Renault-Samsung, 81% owned by Renault, saw global sales fall by almost 49% to 8,074 vehicles in November from 15,749 units in the same month of last year, mainly reflecting plunging exports. Total volume in the first 11 months of the year fell by close to 34% to 107,151 units from 161,733 units previously.

Domestic sales declined by almost 11% to 7,207 units last month from 8,076 units a year earlier despite the recent launch of the new XM3 SUV, reflecting rising competition from leading domestic brands such as Hyundai and Kia. Local sales were still up by over 14% at 87,929 units year to date from 76,879 units previously. 

Exports plunged by almost 89% to 867 in November from 7,673 units a year earlier, reflecting the discontinuation of Nissan Motor export orders for the Rogue SUV from Nissan Motor. Export volume in the first 11 months of the year was down by over 77% at 19,025 units from 83,072 units.

South Korean carmakers: domestic/overseas sales by brand, November 2020

Brands DomesticOverseasGlobal
Hyundai 70035306669376704
Kia50523205496256019
GM Korea65561482821384
Ssangyong9270258911859
Renault-Samsung72078678074
Total143591530449674040
Sources: www.AsiaMotorBusiness.com from industry sources