South Korea Autos Report Q2 2013: New research report available at Fast Market Research

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Fri Apr 19 2013

Auto sales in South Korea rose 22.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) in January, to 756,255 units compared to 618,853 in January 2011, according to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA), as reported by the Yonhap news agency. This rise was mostly due to strong sales abroad.

The country's five carmakers Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors and Ssangyong Motor shipped 651,878 units overseas in January, a rise of 24.9% y-o-y.

Kia enjoyed a particular boon, hitting record global sales growth of 13.9% in January 2013, selling a total of 211,088 passenger cars, recreational vehicles and commercial vehicles, Automotive World reports. Kia achieved a 50.3% y-o-y sales increase in China, totalling 57,575 units, a 6.3% surge (to 38,058) in Europe and a 6% rise in South Korea, to 36,250 vehicles. It was the highest total global January sales in Kia's history, as the carmaker also achieved 4.1% and 1.7% increases in general markets and North America respectively.

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However, domestic sales in January fell 23% from 135,669 units in December 2012. KAMA put this down to the cessation of a government-led tax reduction policy. The government gave a 5% tax cut incentive to car buyers from September to December in an attempt to fuel domestic demand.

Market leader Hyundai, whose foreign sales rose 30.5% in January to 362,509 vehicles, in a statement said: 'We will face a more difficult business environment this year due to weakening car demand even in emerging markets and currency fluctuations'.

We share these concerns and are not bullish on growth for vehicle sales in 2013.

BMI forecasts 2013 vehicle sales in South Korea will grow at a lacklustre 3.3% and come in at 1.46mn units. We attribute this to the high level of consumer debt and poor economic sentiment, which will cramp private consumption. Consumer confidence is not expected to improve going into next year, and our Country Risk team forecasts 2013 GDP growth of just 3.0%.

Although we are wary of reading too much into January's data, given that it was likely skewed by the household tax-incentives that expired in December 2012, South Korea's bank lending to households witnessed its largest monthly decline on record in January. Lending fell from KRW3.4trn to KRW463.1trn, which is worrying for sales.

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