South Korean sales slightly lower in July

Domestic sales of the five major South Korean automakers combined fell slightly to 122,134 units in July 2022, from 123,512 units a year earlier, according to preliminary wholesale data released separately by the companies.

The ongoing shortage of semiconductors continued to impact vehicle deliveries to the local market last month, with some brands more affected than others by disruptions. Hyundai’s domestic deliveries were down 6% to 56,305 units, while GM Korea reported a 16% drop to 4,117 units and Renault Korea sales fell 14% to 4,257 units. Kia reported an increase of 7% to 51,355 units and Ssangyong saw an increase of 8% to 6,100.

In the first seven months of the year (YTD), combined domestic sales fell 10% to 791,020 units, compared to 876,706 a year ago.

Global sales of the ‘big five’, including vehicles Hyundai and Kia produced overseas, rose 7% in July to 637,393 units from 594,583 a year earlier, mainly due to rising overseas sales as the YTD volume decreased by 3% to 4,182,363 from 4,320,658 units.

Overseas sales rose 9% last month to 515,259 units from 471,071 a year earlier, but still fell 1.5% to 3,391,343 YTD from 3,443,952 units.

Hyundai Motor global sales rose 4% to 325,999 units in July, from 313,460 a year earlier, as a result of higher overseas shipments, while domestic sales continued to underperform. Global YTD sales were still down 6% to 2,205,040s, including 116,000 EVs, compared to 2,344,645 units a year ago.

Domestic sales fell 6% last month to 56,305 units from 59,856 a year earlier, despite strong demand for SUVs and the luxury brand Genesis.

YTD sales fell 12% to 390,701 from 445,951 units. Overseas sales rose 6% in July to 269,694 units from 253,604 units, while cumulative sales fell 4% to 1,814,339 from 1,898,694 units due to significant headwinds in the first half of the year, including the business suspension in Russia and logistical problems in China.

Hyundai left its forecast unchanged for an 11% increase in sales to 4,323,000 vehicles in 2022, driven by a 13% increase in overseas sales to 3,591,000 units and a slight increase in domestic sales to 732,000 units.

The automaker said it would “effort to reduce business uncertainties by optimizing production and inventories while diversifying business strategies tailored to each region.”

kia Global sales rose 6% in July to 257,903 vehicles, compared to 242,720 a year earlier, thanks to stronger domestic and foreign sales as semiconductor shortages began to ease. Global YTD sales were slightly lower at 1,677,391 units versus 1,686,827.

Domestic sales rose 7% last month to 51,355 units from 48,160 a year earlier, but still fell 4% to 313,887 YTD from 326,544, despite strong demand for Sorento and Sportage SUVs.

Foreign sales rose 6% in July to 206,548 units from 194,560, while YTD volume was just a little higher at 1,362,458 from 1,360,283, supported by strong demand for the Sportage and Seltos SUVs.

Kia grew its global full-year sales forecast from 14% to 3.15 million vehicles, including 562,000 domestic sales and 2.59 million units overseas, with new models such as the EV6 GT and the redesigned Niro helping to drive demand .

GM Korea global sales rose 36% to 26,066 vehicles in July, from 19,215 a year earlier, with strong export growth offsetting weaker domestic sales. YTD sales fell 15% to 148,822 units from 173,998 earlier, with production significantly impacted by the semiconductor shortage.

Domestic sales fell 16% in July to 4,117 units from 4,886 a year earlier and 43% to 21,668 YTD from 38,046 units.

The automaker continued to bolster its domestic range with US imports such as the upgraded Equinox and Tahoe SUVs. The company said it would launch the GMC brand in the second half of the year with the Sierra Denali pickup to lead the brand’s market entry.

Exports were up 53% year-over-year to 21,949 units last month from 14,329, driven by strong deliveries from the Trailblazer, but YTD volume still declined 6% to 127,154 from 135,952 units.

GM Korea plans to shut down operations at its Bupyeong 2 plant by the end of the year, with production of the Trax compact SUV and Malibu mid-size sedan to end in November. Production will be concentrated at the Bupyeong 1 and Changwon plants, which have a combined production capacity of 500,000 vehicles per year in three shifts. They make the Chevy Trailblazer SUV and the Spark mini car, respectively. A new crossover is planned to go into production in Changwon later this year.

Renault Korea saw its global sales rise 51% in July to 16,673 vehicles from 11,033 units a year earlier, following a rebound in export sales after a sharp decline in the previous month, partly due to the semiconductor shortage. YTD sales increased 39% to 92,829, compared to 66,959, mainly due to strong export growth for most of the year.

Local sales fell 14% last month to 4,257 units from 4,958 a year earlier and 10% to 30,487 YTD from 33,888 units. Exports doubled from 6,075 to 12,416 units in July and rose 89% to 62,709 YTD from 33,161 units as the company ramped up deliveries of Renault’s XM3 and QM6 SUVs to Europe.

Last month, Renault Korea announced plans to produce its first EV in 2026, by which time it expects the local EV market to have increased to 20% of total car sales and to between 30% and 40% by 2030.

bankrupt Ssangyong engine global sales rose 32% to 10,752 vehicles in July, from 8,155 a year earlier, on the back of a pick-up in domestic and foreign demand. YTD sales were up 21% to 58,281 units from 48,229.
Domestic sales increased nearly 8% last month to 6,100 units, compared to 5,652 a year earlier, while YTD volume increased 6% to 34,277, compared to 32,277.

Exports recovered 86% to 4,652 units from weak sales of 2,503 units a year earlier, while cumulative volume was 50% higher at 24,064, up from 16,042.

The company launched its first battery-powered SUV, the Korando e-Motion, in March to help bolster its domestic sales.

The Seoul bankruptcy court said in late June that a consortium led by local steel and chemical company KG Group had been selected as the successful bidder in the latest auction for the bankrupt automaker, which had offered the best deal in terms of “acquisition price, fundraising plans and financial standing.” The winning bid was valued at KRW 950 billion (US$736 million), including KRW 600 billion in working capital, with the consortium given until October 15 to close the deal.

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