Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined rose by just over 3% to 127,157 units in November 2022 from 123,136 units a year earlier, according to preliminary wholesale data released individually by the companies.
The data did not include sales by 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.
The domestic vehicle market last month was supported by improving semiconductor supplies and recent new model launches, particularly by the leading domestic brands. The central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by a further 25 basis points in November to 3.25%, from just 1% earlier this year, to help control inflation, after annual GDP growth picked up slightly to 3.1% in the third quarter.
Market leader Hyundai reported a 2% fall in domestic sales to 60,926 units last month, while sister company Kia’s sales were up 13% at 52,200 units. GM Korea’s sales fell 21% to 2,057 units while Renault Korea reported a 9% drop to 5,553 units. Domestic SUV manufacturer Ssangyong saw its local deliveries rise 2% to 6,421 units.
In the first 11 months of the year, overall domestic sales were down by 3% at 1,260,653 units from 1,301,872 in the same period of last year.
Global sales by the country’s ‘big five’ automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, increased 14% to 655,419 units in November from 575,920 units a year earlier due to stronger domestic and overseas sales, while YTD volume was up 3% at 6,769,525 from 6,543,755 units. Overseas sales increased 17% to 528,262 units last month from 452,784 a year earlier and were 5% higher at 5,508,872 YTD from 5,241,883 units.
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Hyundai Motor global sales increased 11% to 351,179 units in November from 317,181 a year earlier, reflecting strong overseas demand and recent new model launches. Global sales YTD were just slightly higher at 3,600,138 units compared with 3,556,749 units in the same period of last year, reflecting ongoing shortages of key components which the company said continued to affect production volumes.
Domestic sales fell 2% to 60,926 units last month from 62,071 a year earlier, despite strong demand for SUVs and the upmarket Genesis brand. The company launched the redesigned Grandeur sedan and Ioniq 6 EV in October which helped support sales last month. Cumulative YTD domestic sales were down 6.4% at 618,497 units from 660,726 units a year earlier.
Overseas sales increased 14% to 290,253 units in November from 255,110 units, helped by strong sales in the Americas, India and the Asia Pacific region. Cumulative overseas sales were 2% higher at 2,981,641 from 2,896,023 units despite significant headwinds in the first half of the year including the suspension of operations in Russia, Covid disruption in China and significant supply chain shortages.
Kia global sales rose 15% to 252,825 vehicles in November from 219,845 a year earlier, driven by stronger domestic and overseas sales. Year to date, global sales were up 3.7% at 2,663,734 units from 2,568,091 units. Global sales of the EV6 BEV tripled to 73,167 units year to date.
Domestic sales rose 13% to 52,200 units last month from 46,042 a year earlier, driven by strong demand for SUVs such as the Sorento and Sportage, while year to date deliveries were slightly higher at 490,532 units from 487,227 units. Overseas sales rose 15% to 200,625 units in November from 173,803, driven by robust sales in most markets including North and South America, Europe, Asia Pacific and India. YTD volume increased 4% to 2,173,202 from 2,080,864 units, underpinned by strong demand for the Sportage and Seltos SUVs.
GM Korea global sales surged by 86% to 22,860 vehicles in November from a weak 12,274 units a year earlier, driven by strong exports. YTD sales were up by almost 8% at 241,123 units from 223,513, despite an acute global shortage of semiconductors in the first half of the year.
Local sales fell by 21% to 2,057 units in November from 2,617 units a year earlier and were down by over 27% at 39,467 YTD from 54,344 units. The automaker has beefed up its domestic model line with imports from the US in the last two years, with the upgraded Equinox and Tahoe SUVs the most recent arrivals. The company said it would launch the GMC brand in the coming month, with the Sierra Denali pickup truck set to lead the brand’s market entry.
Exports doubled to 20,803 units last month from 9,657 units, driven by strong deliveries of the Trailblazer SUV, while cumulative volume was up 19% at 201,656 from 169,169 units.
GM Korea plans to cease operations at its Bupyeong 2 plant by the end of 2022, following the discontinuation of the Trax and Malibu models in November. Production will be concentrated at the Bupyeong 1 and Changwon plants, which have a combined production capacity of 500,000 vehicles annually on three shifts. They make the Chevy Trailblazer SUV and the Spark mini car respectively.
The company is looking for a strong recovery in 2023, helped by the introduction of a new cross-over vehicle at the Changwon plant in the first quarter of the year and increased production of the Trailblazer in Bupyeong.
Renault Korea saw its global sales fall by 3% to 17,333 units in November from 17,872 a year earlier, reflecting mainly weak domestic sales. Overall global sales YTD were up by over 33% at 159,964 units from 120,051, reflecting mainly strong export growth throughout most of the year.
Domestic sales fell 9% to 5,553 units last month from 6,129 a year earlier, but were flat at 49,011 YTD from 49,022 units. Exports were slightly lower at 11,780 units in November from 11,743 units a year earlier, but were up 56% at 110,953 YTD from 71,029, as the company stepped up shipments of the XM3 and QM6 SUVs to Europe.
In July Renault Korea announced plans to produce its first EV in 2026 by which time it expects the local EV market to have expanded to 20% of overall vehicle sales, rising further to between 30% and 40% by 2030.
Ssangyong Motor global sales rose 28% to 11,222 vehicles in November from 8,748 units a year earlier, reflecting mainly surging overseas sales. YTD sales were up 39% at 104,566 units from 75,351 units.
Domestic sales rose 2% to 6,421 units last month from 6,277 a year earlier while YTD volume was up 25% at 63,146 from 50,553 units. The company launched its first BEV SUV in March, the Korando e-Motion, to help strengthen its domestic sales.
Exports almost doubled to 4,801 units in November from 2,501 units a year earlier, while cumulative volume was 66% higher at 41,570 from 24,978 units. In October the automaker signed a deal to supply Saudi National Automobiles Manufacturing Company with 170,000 SKD Rexton SUVs for local assembly over a period of six years starting in 2023.