Automobile

South Korean sales rebound 24% in February

Recently launched, fully redesigned Tucson is giving Hyundai a sales boost worldwide

Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined rebounded strongly in February 2021, by almost 24% to 101,356 units from weak year earlier sales of 81,772 units, according to preliminary data released individually by the companies.

The data did not include sales by South Korea’s low-volume commercial vehicle manufacturers, including Tata-Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation, as well as sales of imported vehicles which will be covered in a separate report later in the month. Together these accounted for close to 15% of total vehicle sales last year.

Domestic vehicle sales last month rebounded from depressed year earlier volume when numerous vehicle assembly plants halted operations due to component shortages as the first wave of the global COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains in China. 

The country’s leading automakers outperformed significantly in February due to strong new product ranges.

Hyundai’s sales jumped by almost 33% to 52,102 units last month from depressed year earlier volume while Kia reported a 31% sales surge to 37,583 units. 

By contrast GM Korea reported a mere 2.4% domestic sales increase to 5,098 units in February while Renault-Samsung volume was up 6.2% at 3,900 units.

Ssangyong sales plunged 48% to 2,673 units after the bankrupt automaker was forced to halt production for half the month due to a lack of component supplies.

In the first two months of the year, domestic sales by the five automakers increased by almost 20% to 217,626 units from 181,734 units in the same period of 2020.

Global sales among the country’s ‘big five’ automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, increased by 4.8% to 544,823 units in February 2021 from 520,095 units a year earlier, reflecting mainly a strong rebound in domestic sales. Total volume in the first two months of the year were also up by 4.8% at 1,142,036 units from 1,090,024 units a year earlier.

Overseas sales rose by 1.2% to 443,467 units last month from 438,323 units a year earlier, with higher sales in China, India and Russia more than offsetting weak sales elsewhere. Year-to-date sales were up by 1.8% at 924,410 units from 908,290 units in the same period of last year.

Hyundai Motor global sales increased by 6.7% to 300,248 vehicles in February 2021 from 321,368 a year earlier, driven mainly by a strong rebound in domestic sales from weak year earlier volume. In the first two months of the year total volume was up by 4.3% at 621,616 units from 596,188 units in the same period of last year.

In January the company said it expected global sales this year to rise by over 11% to 4.16m units from 3.74m units in 2020.

The company’s domestic sales jumped by almost 33% to 52,102 units last month from depressed year earlier sales of 39,290 units when local vehicle output was affected by widespread plant closures in the initial stages of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The rebound was led by the Grandeur and Elantra sedans, the redesigned Tucson SUV and strong demand for the Genesis G80 and GV70 models. Cumulative two month sales were up by over 28% at 111,603 units from 86,881 a year earlier.

Overseas sales increased by 2.5% to 248,146 units in February from 261,867 units a year earlier,  helped by recovering demand in markets such as China, India and Russia. Volume in the first two months of the year was just slightly higher at 510,013 units from 509,307 units a year earlier.

Kia Corporation global sales rose 7% to 210,177 vehicles in February 2021 from 196,408 units a year earlier, driven mainly by a strong surge in domestic sales. Total volume in the first two months of the year was up by 4.6% at 436,475 units from 417,142 units a year earlier. 

Domestic sales jumped by 31% to 37,583 vehicles last month from weak year earlier sales of 28,681 units when it was forced to halt some assembly operations due to supply chain problems in China in the early stages of the pandemic. The company reported particularly strong demand last month for the Sorento and Sportage SUVs and the Carnival MPV. In the first two months of the year, domestic sales were up 20% at 79,064 units from 65,731 previously.

Overseas sales climbed 2.9% to 172,594 units in February from 167,727 a year earlier and by 1.7% to 357,411 in the first two months of the year from 351,411 units, helped by recovering demand in China. 

The company last month said new electric vehicle models would help drive growth this year with global sales forecast to rise by 12% to 2.92m vehicles from just over 2.6m units in 2020.

GM Korea global sales fell by almost 14% to 24,265 vehicles in February 2021 from 28,126 units a year earlier, reflecting a sharp drop in overseas volume. In the first two months of the year global sales were still up by 24% at 60,391 units from 48,610 units previously.

Domestic sales rose by 2.4% to 5,098 units last month from 4,978 a year earlier and by over 11% to 11,204 units in the first two months of the year from 10,079 units, reflecting higher demand for the Trailblazer, Equinox and Traverse SUVs.

Overseas sales fell by 17% to 19,167 units in February from 23,148 a year earlier, but were still up by almost 28% at 49,187 units year-to-date from 38,531 previously.

Renault-Samsung, 81%-owned by Renault, saw its global sales rise 4.1% to 7,344 vehicles in February 2021 from weak year earlier sales of 7,057 units, reflecting improvements in both domestic sales and exports. In the first two months of the year total sales were just 1.6% higher at 13,496 units from 13,290 units previously.

Domestic sales increased by 6.2% to 3,900 units last month from 3,673 units a year earlier, but were down by almost 7% year-to-date at 7,434 from 7,976 units. Exports increased by 1.8% to 3,444 units in February from 3,384 units a year earlier and by over 14% to 6,062 units in the first two months of the year from 5,314 units previously.

After union workers voted in favour of strike action last month to demand higher wages, Renault sent a message back claiming the company needs to ramp up production and cut manufacturing costs in order to stay afloat. Having lost the Nissan Rogue SUV export contract, Renault Samsung is operating at depressed output levels which, according to its parent company, has made it uncompetitive compared with European plants despite the export deal to ship the XM3 SUV rebadged as the Arkana to Renault.

Ssangyong Motor reported a more than 61% plunge in global sales to 2,789 vehicles in February from 7,141 units a year earlier, after the company was forced to shut its plant for half of the month due to a shortage of components. Global sales in the first two months of the year were down by over 22% at 11,467 units from 14,794 previously.

The automaker filed for bankruptcy on 21 December 2020 after it failed to meet debt obligations and creditors refused to reschedule repayment deadlines. A number of local manufacturers have refused to supply components because of significant overdue payments.

Domestic sales fell by 48% to 2,673 units last month from 5,100 units a year earlier and by almost 22% to 8,321 units year-to-date from 10,657 previously. Exports plunged by 94% to 116 units in February from 2,041 and by 24% to 3,146 units year-to-date from 4,137 units.

The Indian parent company Mahindra & Mahindra has said it was in the process of negotiating the sale of all or most of its 70% stake in Ssangyong but is said to be struggling to agree financial terms with a potential buyer.

South Korean carmakers: domestic/overseas sales by brand, February 2021



Hyundai 52102 248146 300248
Kia 37583 172594 210177
GM Korea 5098 19167 24265
Renault-Samsung 3900 3444 7344
Ssangyong 2673 116 2789
Total 101356 443467 544823
Sources: www.AsiaMotorBusiness.com from industry sources



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