Carmakers’ Dec. sales dip 5 pct amid pandemic

January 4, 2021

South Korean carmakers’ sales fell 5 percent last month from a year earlier as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on demand, industry data showed Monday.

The five carmakers in South Korea — Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. — sold a combined 658,550 vehicles in December, down from 694,988 units a year ago, according to data from the companies.

Their domestic sales fell 8 percent to 133,061 units in December from 144,839 a year ago, while overseas sales declined 4.5 percent to 525,489 from 550,149 during the same period, the data showed.

Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world’s fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, reduced production at their domestic and overseas plants to manage inventories as the COVID-19 pandemic continued.

In December, Hyundai’s sales fell 6.4 percent to 376,970 from 399,543 and Kia’s dropped 3.8 percent to 218,256 from 226,829 over the cited period.

Robust local sales of the Palisade, Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs allowed Hyundai to offset weak overseas sales last month.

In contrast, strong overseas demand for the Sportage SUV and the Carnival minivan helped Kia offset a decline in domestic sales.

Hyundai and Kia said they will continue to minimize the negative impact of the pandemic on vehicle sales this year while focusing on boosting sales of SUV models.

SsangYong Motor, the South Korean unit of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., reported poor sales results last month due to lower demand for its models, and Renault Samsung, the local unit of Renault S.A., also suffered low sales due to halted production at one of its plants.

SsangYong Motor’s sales plunged 18 percentㅍ to 10,561 autos last month from 12,923 a year earlier. Renault Samsung’s tumbled 47 percent to 9,016 from 16,965 during the same period.

GM Korea performed well among the three minor carmakers. Its sales rose 20 percent to 46,717 units last month from 38,818 a year ago.

For the whole of 2020, the five carmakers sold a total of 6.94 million units, down 12 percent from 7.93 million a year ago.

Their domestic sales rose 4.8 percent on-year to 1.6 million last year, but overseas sales fell 17 percent to 5.3 million.