Local car manufacturers’ sales in February turned out to be for the better, but GM Korea slowed due to drastic drop in exports, in spite its good local sales.
According to industry sources on March 3, the combined sales of five local automakers reached 689,100 vehicles in February, up 5.8% from 651,248 units a year ago, due to more working days and a rise in demand for newly-released car models.
During the same period, domestic sales rose 8.3 percent to 107,004 units, while overseas sales, which count both exports and cars made in foreign countries by local carmakers, were up 5.4 percent to 582,096 units.
The three local automakers Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and Ssangyong Motor (the local unit of Indian sport utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra) all fared well in terms of sales compared to the year before.
On the other hand, GM Korea, the local unit of General Motors of the United States, and Renault Samsung Motor, the Korean division of French automaker Renault SA, sold less cars than the year before.
Korea’s No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor said that its February sales rose 3.4 percent from a year earlier.
The company said that it sold 378,844 cars last month, with domestic sales rising 8.2 percent to reach 51,380. Overseas shipments gained 2.7 percent to 327,464 cars.
On the domestic front, sales of the premium brand new Genesis sedan reached 4,164 units, or a four-fold gain from the year before.
It added its Grandeur full-sized sedan was its best-selling car last month, with 7,496 units being sold, including the hybrid variant.
In the sport utility vehicle sector, sales of the popular Sante Fe hit 6,102 units.
Hyundai Motor said that this year’s market conditions will be tough, with demand expected to grow only at a sluggish pace this year, coupled with stiffer competition. It added that every effort will be made to build up the company’s global competitiveness to cope with a myriad of challenges.
Besides the Genesis, the company is expected to launch its new Sonata mid-size sedan next month in the home market, with overseas sales to start in the second half.
Kia Motors, Korea’s second-largest auto brand, said that its sales surged 18.2 percent in February from a year ago.
The carmaker said it sold a total of 242,799 units overall last month, up from 205,341 vehicles tallied a year earlier.
Of all cars sold, sales in the local market jumped 6.4 percent from a year ago to 35,000 units, while overseas sales stood at 207,799, a 20.5 percent increase from February 2013.
“More working days to make cars and greater overseas sales of vehicles made in South Korea that rose by 34 percent played a role in higher numbers,” the carmaker said. It added that sales of cars made by its overseas assembly lines also rose 9.2 percent.
Compared to January, when its sales amounted to 257,399 units, numbers were down 5.7 percent. The decrease was caused by a drop in cars made in China that enjoyed more days off during the Lunar New Year holidays.
Kia said sales of such cars as the mini Ray and K9 premium sedan rose by double digits, with sales of its sub-compact Pride and K5 mid-size sedan doing well compared to the year before.
For the first two months of this year, Kia’s sales were up 7.3 percent from the same period of last year to 500,198 units, with overseas sales gaining 8.6 percent to 431,198 vehicles sold and domestic sales hitting 69,000, for a dip of 0.2 percent.
GM Korea said that its sales for February plunged 18 percent from a year earlier, due mainly to weak overseas demand.
Korea’s third-largest carmaker sold a total of 48,007 vehicles last month, down from 58,574 units sold for the same month of 2013.
Its domestic sales moved up 3.3 percent from a year ago to 10,301 units on the back of demand for steady-selling models such as the Aveo subcompact, Cruze compact, and Malibu mid-size sedan. The company said sales marked the highest numbers reached for the month of February since 2004, a good sign for the New Year.
Overseas shipments, however, fell 22.4 percent to 37,706 vehicles. The drop is attributable to the GM plan to scale back the market presence of its Chevrolet-badged vehicles in Europe, a step likely to hurt its Korean subsidiary that is a major producer of Chevrolet cars.
The latest data showed the carmaker’s Chevrolet Spark supermini remained by far its best-selling model, with 4,745 units sold in February.
Ssangyong Motor said that its sales soared 19.4 percent in February from a year ago, on the strength of consumer demand for its popular Korando family of rugged off-road capable vehicles.
The carmaker’s total sales hit 11,805 units last month compared with 9,884 vehicles sold a year earlier. Domestic sales reached 5,502 units, a 26.9 percent increase from the same month in 2013. Exports, including knockdown kits, were tallied at 6,303 vehicles, a 13.6 percent increase from figures released for the second month of last year.
The company said, “Sales were bolstered by demand for the Korando family brand of sport utility vehicles as well as the larger Rexton vehicles.” It added that sales of the new Korando C, Korando Sports, and Rexton all contributed to good monthly figures.
For the outbound shipment, steady demand from Russia and Latin American countries helped shipments to rise.
The company, the fourth-largest car manufacturer in South Korea, said it expects to sell some 91,000 cars abroad this year, up 11.4 percent from 81,679 vehicles shipped out in 2013.
If sales grow in 2014, it will mark the fifth year in a row for Ssangyong to make more cars on an annual basis.
Renault Samsung Motors
The sales by Renault Samsung Motors, the smallest carmaker, dropped 33.5 percent in February from a year earlier as exports fell sharply.
The country’s smallest car manufacturer by sales said it sold a total of 7,717 vehicles in February, compared with 11,611 units tallied in the same month of 2013.
Its domestic sales rose 16.7 percent from a year ago to 4,821 units, with overseas sales hitting 2,896 vehicles for a loss of 61.3 percent.
The carmaker said sales compared to the month before rose 15.2 percent despite weak year-on-year numbers.
It said domestic sales were up 7.1 percent from the previous month with exports surging 31.8 percent.
The carmaker said last month’s numbers compared to January reflected better consumer perception for its car models. Sales of the SM3 increased 46.7 percent from a year earlier, while comparative numbers for the QM5 crossover utility vehicles (CUV) surged 234 percent to 972 units from February of last year when the company sold 291 vehicles.
The carmaker said the popularity of such models as the QM5 Neo played a role in domestic market sales. It also said steady demand for the small-size QM3 CUV will push up domestic sales numbers in the future.