Ssangyong Motors’ SUV Actyon, which was recently released in Kazakhstan with the name Nomad, is a model discontinued in Korea four years ago. The production of Kyron, another main export item of Ssangyong, was stopped in Korea in December 2011, too.
These models were discontinued in Korea as the focus of the domestic SUV market shifted from a frame body type to a monocoque body type. Both of the models adopt a frame body.
However, both the Kyron and Actyon are highly popular in emerging countries these days. The combined export amount reached 8,956 units in the first half of this year, equivalent to 22 percent of Ssangyong’s total export volume during the same period.
“An increasing number of the models are shipped out to emerging countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran and China,” the company explained, adding, “This is because the frame body vehicles provide higher driving stability and durability, which suit the conditions of the countries where many roads are not paved yet.”
Hyundai and Kia have such models as well, including the Soul, Accent, and Pride. The mid-size CUV Soul, which made its debut in Korea six years ago and in the U.S. the following year, recorded a sales volume of just 2,784 in the domestic market during the past one year, but as high as 118,079 in the U.S. The cumulative sales volume recently broke the 500,000 unit mark.
The difference in popularity can be attributed to the small size of the domestic box car market. “Sedans have constituted the mainstream of the Korean automobile market, and the majority of customers are not yet familiar with box cars and hatchbacks,” said Kia.
The compact cars Accent and Pride are much more popular in overseas markets, too. The local sales volumes of the respective models were 11,742 and 5,000 in H1 this year, but 138,197 and 131,936 units were exported during the same period.
Hyundai Motor Company’s compact Atoz is enjoying a lot of popularity in India. The product, which is called the Santro there, began to be supplied to India in 1997, and the cumulative sell-through topped one million units in 2009. The yearly sales volume exceeded 42,000 in 2013 alone, too.
In the meantime, GM Korea’s small SUV Chevrolet Trax and electric vehicle Spark EV have an export size 20 to 30 times that of domestic sales. The Trax is sold by the name of Opel Mocha and Buick Encore in Europe and the U.S., respectively. “Small SUVs’ popularity has been high in America and Europe thanks to their economic efficiency and utility, although the market is at its early stage in Korea,” GM Korea explained.