Korean car sales up 8.9% on domestic demand
Korean auto sales rose 8.9 percent in November from a year earlier on the back of a government-led tax reduction policy and brisk sales at home and abroad, industry data showed Monday.
The combined sales of the country's five carmakers led by industry leader Hyundai Motor Co. came in at 778,727 vehicles last month, compared with 714,747 units sold a year ago, according to data released by the companies.
The other four automakers are Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co.
Their domestic sales led the overall sales increase, with a 12.2 percent on-year rise of 129,363 units sold, while overseas shipments rose 8.3 percent on-year to 649,363 vehicles including the complete knock-down (CKD) kits.
The November auto sales marked positive growth for a third consecutive month, after suffering a drop in demand for two straight months in July and August. Car sales started to turn around in September to gain 0.3 percent from a year earlier.
Market watchers said the latest figures showed a recovery in the South Korean car market. Sales picked up as the carmakers brought out new models and the government offered consumer tax benefits on car purchases.
"The government-led tax-cut program and many new models gave a boost to domestic car demand," said an official from Hyundai Motor. "The increasing demand will continue next month until the end of the year when the government program ends."
Hyundai saw its domestic sales jumped 12.6 percent on-year to sell 61,608 units last month, with sales of its sports utility vehicles (SUVs) shooting up 87.2 percent. It sold 8,122 units of the new Santa Fe crossover last month, up more than three-fold from a year ago and sales of the Tucson ix inched up 4.1 percent on-year to 3,833 units.
Hyundai's Avante compact retained the best-selling model status in November, with 9,932 units sold, followed by the Sonata sedan with 8,997 units.
Its smaller affiliate Kia Motors also experienced a 13.2 percent jump in its domestic sales last month, with 44,400 units sold, as its new cars gained popularity among South Korean drivers, said the automaker.
The K3 compact, unveiled in September to run against Hyundai's Avante, led the increase, with 7,575 units sold last month. Sales of the facelift model of the K7 sedan, which went on sale in October, soared 182 percent on-year to 3,148 units.
Kia said its sales promotion programs and new models widely appealed to customers, along with the government tax-cut benefits.
Domestic sales of GM Korea, the local unit of General Motors Co., jumped 27.5 percent on-year to 13,768 units, marking the highest domestic sales in 23 months since the U.S. carmaker launched the Chevrolet brand in South Korea in January 2011.
Its Chevrolet Spark mini car and the Cruze compact led the record sales, as the former saw a 29.9 percent jump to 5,619 units and the latter soared 43.3 percent to 1,859 units.
"GM Korea domestic sales in November hit a 23-month high, and we are on track to meet our sales targets for the year," said Ankush Arora, GM Korea's vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, in a statement.
"We expect sales to continue growing in the final month of 2012 as a result of the refreshed 2013 Spark, which will soon go on sale, as well as a 10th Anniversary sales promotions and the Korean government's reduction of the individual consumer tax until the end of 2012."
Renault Samsung, the fourth-largest carmaker and the local unit of France's Renault Group, continued to struggle in the domestic market, but slowed its downturn pace on the new-car effect.
It saw a 33.2 percent on-year plunge in domestic sales but 10.8 percent on-month rise to sell a six-month high of 5,184 units. The company's new SM5 mid-size sedan led the recovery, with 3,383 units sold last month.
The smallest carmaker, Ssangyong Motor, which specializes in SUVs, was also on a roll last month, with 4,404 units sold in the local car market, up 49.1 percent from a year ago.
The carmaker said the tax-reduction program attributed to the domestic sales increase along with its steady-selling models of the Korando C and the Rexton.
Meanwhile, their overseas sales continued their steady rise last month despite sluggish global demand with Hyundai's exports jumping 11.8 percent on-year and Kia's overseas sales rising 12 percent.
"The global car market will face more difficulties next year as the eurozone fiscal woes are expected to continue to affect the world economy and spread to other regions," said an official at Hyundai.
For the first 11 months of the year, a total of 7,481,412 units were sold by the five automakers, up 5.9 percent from a year ago. (Yonhap)