SEOUL, July 1 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean carmakers’ sales rose 15 percent last month from a year earlier as overseas demand remained steadfast despite the extended COVID-19 pandemic, industry data showed Thursday.
The country’s five carmakers — Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. — sold a combined 657,547 vehicles in June, up from 571,146 units a year ago, according to data from the companies.
Their domestic sales fell 24 percent to 134,761 units last month from 176,468 a year ago. But overseas sales jumped 32 percent to 522,786 from 394,678 during the same period, the data showed.
Hyundai and its affiliate Kia outshined their smaller rivals here, with their overseas sales helping prop up their performance.
On top of strong sales of their sport utility vehicle models overseas, the companies benefited from a lower base effect, as they suffered disrupted production at their plants due to the pandemic in the same month of last year.
In June, Hyundai’s sales rose 14 percent to 354,409 units from 309,827 a year ago, and Kia’s also climbed 24 percent to 253,592 from 246,768 over the cited period.
The monthly results were backed largely by strong overseas demand for Hyundai’s Palisade, Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs and Kia’s Sportage and Seltos SUVs.
In contrast, a shortage of semiconductor components affected vehicle production in their domestic plants and sales last month.
This year, Hyundai and Kia said they will continue to focus on promoting their new models, including Hyundai’s all-electric IONIQ 5 crossover utility vehicle and Kia’s K8 sedan and all-electric EV6 model, to ride out the pandemic.
They aim to sell a combined 7.08 million vehicles this year, 1.7 percent lower than the 7.2 million units they sold last year.
Three other carmakers suffered a sharp decline in sales last month due to lack of new models and tougher competition with their bigger rivals. Increased exports didn’t help offset poor local sales.
SsangYong Motor’s sales fell 17 percent to 8,474 autos last month from 10,181 a year ago, while Renault Samsung’s declined 0.7 percent to 14,166 from 14,260 during the mentioned period.
But GM Korea’s sales rose 3.4 percent to 26,879 from 25,983.
From January to June, the five automakers’ combined sales rose 22 percent to 3.72 million units from 3.06 million in the year-ago period.
Their domestic sales fell 5.9 percent to 753,104 autos in the first half from 800,089 in the year-ago period, while overseas sales jumped 32 percent to 2.97 million from 2.26 million.
A global chip shortage is expected to remain a worry for carmakers’ vehicle production in July and their sales.
Carmakers have been readjusting their vehicle production volumes while competing with electronics companies to get more chips to minimize output reduction.