South Korean carmakers’ vehicle sales rose 3.4 percent last month from a year earlier as robust domestic demand offset weak overseas sales amid the new coronavirus outbreak, 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 678,549 vehicles in September, up from 655,968 units a year ago, according to data from the companies.
Strong sales of Hyundai and Kia’s recreational vehicles drove up the carmakers’ overall monthly sales results, though the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on consumer sentiment, the data showed.
The five carmakers’ domestic sales jumped 25 percent to 138,530 units in September from 110,654 a year ago.
Their overseas sales fell 1 percent to 540,019 units from 545,314 during the same period as Hyundai and Kia fared better than their rivals in the world’s most important US automobile market last month.
In September, Hyundai’s sales fell 5.3 percent to 360,762 autos from 380,910, while Kia’s rose 10 percent to 260,023 from 235,810 during the same period.
Hyundai and Kia said they will continue to make efforts to minimize the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vehicle sales in global markets while focusing on boosting sales of sport-utility vehicles.
GM Korea performed better than SsangYong Motor and Renault Samsung. Its sales jumped 90 percent on-year to 40,544 units last month from 21,393 a year ago helped by increased shipments of its SUV models.
SsangYong Motor saw its sales fall 4.4 percent to 9,834 units in September due to weak exports. Its domestic sales climbed 13 percent on-year to 8,208 units last month but exports plunged 47 percent to 1,626.
Renault Samsung was the worst performer last month.
Its sales fell 51 percent to 7,386 units last month from 15,208 a year earlier. Its domestic sales declined 24 percent to 5,934 and exports plummeted 80 percent to 1,452 during the cited period.
From January to September, the five carmakers sold a total of 4,903,445 autos, down 16 percent from 5,813,658 in the same period of last year due to the virus impact on vehicle production and sales.
Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world’s fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, suspended operations of their major overseas plants until late May, and overseas parent firms of the three other carmakers reduced production to control inventories amid the pandemic.
Production at the five carmakers’ plants has fallen short of the levels before the coronavirus hit the automobile industry early this year.