Sales of Korea’s five automakers, led by market leader Hyundai Motor Co., increased 6.5 percent on-year in April, fueled mainly by a steady rise in overseas demand, industry data showed Wednesday.
The combined sales of the carmakers came to 689,679 vehicles last month, compared with 647,767 units sold a year earlier, according to sales numbers released by the companies.
Domestic shipments dropped around 7 percent on-year to a combined 117,741 last month. Overseas sales, including cars exported from South Korea and vehicles assembled at foreign plants, climbed 9.6 percent to 571,938 units.
The automakers also include Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co.
“Sales of the country’s top two carmakers – Hyundai and Kia – moved up last month compared to a year earlier, but smaller-sized carmakers reported downturns mainly due to sluggish domestic demand and faltering demand in foreign markets,” an industry insider said.
He said last month’s overall growth was made possible by a solid gain in foreign markets that helped offset weak domestic sales.
The source said only GM Korea and Ssangyong sold more cars in the country last month than the year before, although sales of Renault Samsung moved up 7.0 percent on-month.
By carmaker, Hyundai and Kia, flagship companies of Hyundai Motor Group, the world’s fifth-largest automotive group, reported global sales gains of 7.9 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively, with GM Korea, the local unit of US auto giant general Motors Co., saying sales slumped 13.8 percent.
Sales for Renault Samsung and Ssangyong were down 13.6 percent and 3.2 percent, each.
“Generally, sluggish domestic demand has affected sales, but the release of the all-new Santa Fe and K9 luxury sedan is expected to fuel sales,” said a spokesperson for the group said.
Both companies said overseas conditions were becoming more challenging as rivals move to launch new cars.
GM Korea, said that while sales contracted last month, numbers showed the company’s ability to compete in the market.
“Each product is a strong weapon for competing in the domestic market and we expect sales to grow further throughout the rest of the year,” said Ankush Arora, the company’s vehicle sales vice president.
Others like Renault Samsung said there are signs of recovery for some models like the compact SM3, with Ssangyong upbeat about its monthly sales surpassing the 10,000 mark for the whole of April. The last time the company reached this level was in August 2011.
Local carmakers, meanwhile, said more efforts will be made to maintain tight quality control to win over the confidence of prospective foreign car buyers as competition from Japan, the United States and Europe is expected to heat up.