The Monthly sales of Korean carmakers, which have been steadily declining this year compared to last year, have improved significantly over the past month. Thus it is highly anticipated that the prolonged sales slump will be over soon.
This is because new cars such as the Grandeur, the Stinger, the G4 Rexton, the Kona, Stonic, and the G70 launched after the end of last year, are fueling domestic demand and the aftermaths of conflicts between Korea and China over the deployment of the THAAD System are subsidizing.
However, some experts say that it is premature to become optimistic about the market situation when considering base effects from last year as there were production disruptions due to the Chuseok holiday period and a walkout in September of last year.
According to the automobile industry on October 10, among the five Korean carmakers – Hyundai, Kia, Renault Samsung, Ssangyong, and GM Korea, sales of four automakers excluding GM Korea swelled last month compared to a year ago.
Sales of Hyundai Motor (400,995 units) and Kia Motors (252,254 units) grew 3.5% and 7.1%, respectively, while Ssangyong Motor (13,168 units) sold 8.4% more year on year. In particular, Renault Samsung’s sales (26,182 units) surged 93.1 percent from 13,555 units in the same month of last year thanks to strong exports. Only GM Korea’s sales (42,464 units) declined 10.7 percent.
The domestic market was vitalized by new model effects. Hyundai’s 'Granduer' introduced at the end of last year sold 12,283 units in a month, and recovered monthly sales of 10,000 units which was halted due to a strike in August. The G70, a mid-sized car released on September 20, sold 386 units, but the number of contracts surpassed 3,000 in just seven days. The small SUV Kona (5,386 units) launched in July also remained at the top spot for the second consecutive month after August in the small SUV market.
The Kia Motors’s Sorento Face Lift (partial change) model sold 10,016 units for a month.
Kia Motors said that it was the first time that Kia sold 10,000 units a month since the launch of a new model since 2002.
Ssangyong also increased its domestic sales volume by 18% from a year earlier thanks to strong sales performances of the G4 Rexton and the Tivoli Armor' released in May and July respectively. As a result, Ssangyong Motors ranks third in domestic sales after Hyundai and Kia Motors, overtaking GM Korea and Renault Samsung for the first time since its foundation.
Total sales of the Renault Samsung QM6 (2,468 units) surged in September, up more than 50% from August. Especially, the gasoline model QM6 GDe released on September 1 sold 1,426 units in a month.
In overseas markets, there is still a shock from the THAAD Incident, but a drop in sales is slowing down. Hyundai's overseas sales (341,281 units) sank by only 1.3 percent. Among overseas sales, exports of domestically produced cars (42,280 units) inflated by 45.8%, and the decrease rate of sales of cars produced abroad (259,020 units), which hovered around 30% to 40% due to the THAAD conflict, dropped to 10.4%.
Beijing Hyundai, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor and a Chinese company recorded sales of 85,000 units, a yearly high, last month, up 60 percent from August (53,000 units), according to a Chinese automobile specialized media outlet.
Kia's exports (204,255 units) climbed by 3.6 percent last month, too. Exports of Renault Samsung Motors (18,820 vehicles) also increased 4.3-fold compared to the same month of last year, setting the largest export record ever on a monthly basis.
But the automobile industry is still prudent. "Although automobile sales turned to an increase after a long time, we were not able to ignore base effects with low comparison criteria because there were production disruptions due to the Chuseok holiday period and a strike of last September," a Hyundai Motor official said. "In addition, at the moment, we cannot be clumsily sure about strong sales in both developed and emerging markets abroad."