South Korea 2020. Auto Market grows 5.9% despite the world-wide pandemic affecting sales

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South Korea car market
The SsangYong e-SIV EV

South Korean auto market in 2020 rises by 5.9% as the pandemic and lockdowns affect sales. Full-Year sales have been 1.87 Million. Audi impresses by rising 113.9% and Volkswagen enters the leaderboard by gaining 107% and jumping 8 spots.

Market Trend

The Korean car market has grown in 2020 despite the global pandemic and restrictions damaging the economy.

The market has been closed to foreign vehicles import until the recent (2012) FTA with the EU. The entrance of many new competitors fueled the market growth in these years and the all-time record sales had been established in three years in a row in the period 2014-2016, with the record fixed at 1.83 million units.

On 26 March 2017, the U.S. and Korea agreed to revise their bilateral free trade agreement. The agreement—which would improve U.S. access to Korea’s automobile market and require Korea to curb its steel exports to the U.S. in return for an exemption from higher U.S. steel tariffs. The industry continued to assist at the growth of imported vehicles, mainly luxury brands, while in 2017 and was stable at around 1.8 million units. In 2019, the market fell marginally down, at 1.77 million sales.

However, the South Korean market in 2020 started in a very negative tone with sales in January down 13.1%. Several local factories suspended production due to component shortage caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, leading to 19.1% fewer sales in February. Nevertheless, the only other negative month this year has been August (-3.3%). The highest increase in sales was reported in June (+43.5%), but also September’s performance has been very impressive (+26.8%).

Indeed, Full-Year sales for 2020 have been 1.874.630, reporting an increase of 5.9% compared to 2019.

South Korea monthly variation in sales 2020
South Korea monthly variation in sales 2020

Brand-wise, this year the leader Hyundai (-0.4%) lost 2.2% market share, followed by Kia (+7%), which gained 0.4% share. Genesis (+90.8%) gained 2.6% market share and reached third place -up 4 spots-.  Renault Samsung remained in 4th place and grew 10.6%, followed by SsangYong which fell 2 spots and lost 18.8%, registering the worst performance in the leaderboard.

GM Korea jumped in 6th place -up 25 spots-, followed by Mercedes (-1.5%) -down 2 spots- and BMW which lost 32.1% sales. Closing the leaderboard we have Audi -up 1 spot- registering the best performance in the leaderboard by gaining 113.9% and Volkswagen entering the leaderboard by jumping 8 spots, gaining 107%.

The most sold vehicle this year has been the Hyundai Grandeur (+44.6%) with 145.463 units sold, followed by the Hyundai Porter, which lost 4.6% registering 95.694 new sales this year. The Hyundai Avante (+37.4%) closes the podium by jumping 2 spots and reports 87.731 new units sold.

Tables with sales figures

In the tables below we report sales for all Brands, top 10 Manufacturers Group and top 10 Models.

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