South Korean auto sales rise in 2023 despite December decline

South Korean auto sales rise in 2023 despite December decline

Automakers in South Korea reported a 5% increase in domestic vehicle sales for 2023, registering 1.46 million units sold. However, December sales declined almost 13% amid weak performances by top brands Hyundai and Kia.

Preliminary data shows the five major automakers — Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Korea and KG Mobility — sold 114,905 vehicles in December 2023, down from 131,812 in December 2022. The full-year domestic market expanded to 1.46 million units, up from 1.39 million in 2022.

Hyundai led the growth, with sales increasing nearly 11% for the year. Kia sales rose 5% and GM Korea saw a 4% gain. But KG Mobility and Renault Korea reported declines in 2023.

Mixed results for exports

South Korean automakers exported more than 6.5 million vehicles last year, up 9% annually. However, December exports only rose 3% to 506,339 units. The uneven export performance reflects previous semiconductor shortages easing versus new economic headwinds.

Hyundai and Kia dominate South Korea’s auto industry. Their overseas sales growth offset weaker domestic demand in December. Production optimisation amid parts shortages allowed major automakers to achieve export growth for 2023.

South Korean brands are focusing on new sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and electric vehicles to cater to changing consumer preferences. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 EV and Kia’s Sportage SUV saw strong demand last year. Automakers are also enhancing competitiveness through quality improvements.