Hyundai, Kia lose market share
The market share of Hyundai Motor alone also fell to a record-low, dipping below the 40 percent mark for the first time since data was compiled by the industry.
Hyundai accounted for 39 percent of the domestic auto market last year while Kia took 28.8 percent, according to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (Kaida).
The number of cars sold by Hyundai and Kia last year actually grew by 7.9 percent year-on-year, to 1,241,621. But that still wasn’t enough to catch up with the surging demand for imported cars, the sales of which soared 24.2 percent year-on-year to 243,900.
“There were worries over Volkswagen’s emissions rigging scandal, but since many foreign automakers carried out a series of discount promotions, they continued to ride high in terms of sales,” said Yoon Dae-sung, an executive of Kaida.
Although the nation’s auto market expanded to its largest size last year thanks to a temporary lowering of the individual consumption tax and the release of new models, the numbers show that the growth was mostly led by overseas brands.
Hyundai and Kia peaked in 2009 with 76.8 percent of the domestic auto market. Ever since, their dominance has continuously declined to 74.6 percent in 2012, 71.4 percent in 2013 and below 70 percent in 2014.
In stark contrast, imported cars have jumped from a 4.94 percent share of the market in 2009 to 15.53 percent in 2015.
Earlier this month, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo remarked that it is more important to develop leading auto technology and strengthen competitiveness than to focus solely on sales in such an unstable economic situation.
Hyundai and Kia both reported rather conservative targets for this year. While Hyundai sold 714,121 cars and Kia sold 527,500 cars last year, their sales goals for 2016 have been set at 693,000 and 525,000 cars, respectively, lower than expected.
“The threat of imported cars is expected to grow even bigger this year, but we aim to secure our presence in the domestic market through various new models and our newly established luxury brand, Genesis,” a spokesman from Hyundai said.
Hyundai Motor’s ecofriendly Ioniq and Kia Motors’ new K7 are on their way to the market this month. The recently released EQ900 under Hyundai’s Genesis brand will also face off with imported cars in the luxury car segment.
BY KIM JEE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]