The popularity of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) is skyrocketing despite the ongoing recession in the automobile market as more and more people enjoy outdoor leisure activities. For example, Ssangyong Motors sold more than 5,000 units of SUVs in June this year alone. The company’s SUV sales volume between 2012 and 2013 had stood at around 2,000 to 4,000 units per month.
Wide Indoor Area and Suitability for Leisure Activities Appealing to Consumers
The high popularity of its products such as the Korando Sports, Korando C and Korando Tourismo can be attributed to the wide in-vehicle area and excellent offroad driving performance. “The Korando Tourismo, which is the only 11-seat vehicle equipped with 4WD in Korea, is the perfect choice for family tourists and group tourists,” said an executive at the automaker, adding, “At the same time, it provides excellent driving performance on wet roads and off roads.” He continued that, if six or more persons use the same car, the model is allowed to use the bus-only lanes on expressways so that the passengers can be free from the traffic jam stress while saving gas and time.
Hyundai Motor Company’s Max Cruze is another model highly popular with domestic consumers. The Max Cruze is based on the bestselling model Santa Fe but the wheelbase is approximately 100mm longer than that. Since its debut four months ago, it has been selected by over 5,900 consumers in Korea, way over the expectations of the carmaker.
Ssangyong’s Korando Sports, which recorded the highest sales volume among the three Korandos last month, is particularly well-received by camping fans. The pick-up truck is characterized by its deck as wide as 2.04m2. Furthermore, even a small tent can be set up on it.
Female Drivers Noticing the Driving Convenience and Cute Design
In the recent past, SUVs were not that popular with female drivers. However, they began to take notice of the convenience of SUVs, that is, the high seat position and clear view, and automakers came up with products of pretty design to win them over.
One of the examples is Ssangyong’s Korando C. The model comes with a 181 horsepower engine and the lowest noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) among the models having the same size. Its Smart All-wheel Drive (AWD) system selects the most suitable type of driving in various conditions while the flat floor and reclining seats in the second row allow three adults to travel with comfort.
Automakers both at home and abroad have been launching a series of new SUV models to appeal to female consumers as well, including Tucson (Hyundai), Sportage R (Kia Motors), QM5 (Renault Samsung), Trax (GM Korea), RAV4 (Toyota) and Tiguan (Volkswagen).
Popularity of SUVs Having a Direct Effect on Automakers’ Sales
In spite of the sluggish overall performance of local automakers, Ssangyong Motors has posted the highest monthly sales in the first half of this year thanks to the popularity of its SUVs. In fact, it was the only carmaker in Korea that recorded a year-on-year increase in sales. Its monthly sales volume has been going up from 3,777 units in January to 4,094 in February, 4,645 in March, 4,853 in April, 4,918 in May and 5,347 in June.
Even the other companies fared well in the SUV segment. The combined domestic sales of Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea and Renault Samsung declined in the first half of 2013 but most of them succeeded in increasing their SUV sales during the same period. For instance, Hyundai sold 11.2% less vehicles in H1, 2013 but the growth rate in the SUV market amounted to 45.2%. GM Korea’s overall turnover fell 8.8% whereas that in the segment went up by 20.7% from a year earlier.