* See the Top 55 local models, Top 130 foreigners and Top 30 brands by clicking on the title *
Now updated with the Top 30 brands and Top 135 foreigners for March 2016
The South Korean new car market starts 2016 on a shy note, down 7% year-on-year in January to 122.542 registrations, mainly pulled down by foreigners (-18% to 13.2% share vs. 15.1% in January 2015) while local brands are down 5%. February results are better (+5%) at 126.287 units but once again dragged down by foreign carmakers (-5%) with local manufacturers up 7%. March confirms the uptrend at +15% to 172.942, foreigners are up this time but lag behind the market at +7%.
In January, Hyundai (-1%), Kia (+5%) and Ssangyong (-4%) outperform the market to gain market share as opposed to GM Korea (-22%) and Renault Samsung (-63%) crumbling down below Mercedes (-2%) and BMW (-20%). Audi (-46%) and Volkswagen (-45%) are hit full frontal by the consequences of its emissions scandal but Land Rover (+79%), Ford (+33%), Mini (+39%) and Infiniti (+142%) start 2016 all guns blazing. February shows Kia (+20%), GM Korea (+25%), Mercedes (+24%), Land Rover (+50%), Mini (+48%) and Honda (+54%) all post solid gains while Volkswagen (-25%) and Audi (-60%) are struggling again. March sees Kia (+19%), GM Korea (+20%), Renault Samsung (+70%) and Mercedes (+42%) frankly outperform the market, with Land Rover (+46%), Mini (+42%) and Nissan (+30%) also strong.
The main event of these first three months of 2016 in South Korea is the excellent sales result of Hyundai’s new luxury brand: Genesis. Its first model, the EQ900, clocks up 2.164 sales in January, 2.476 in February and 3.570 in March. This is enough to solidly install in inside the Top 20 local models (#19), but most significantly it is a notch above the imported luxury sedans it is aiming at: the Mercedes E-Class, #1 foreigner over the period, only managed 1.500 units in January, 1.637 in February and , and that was more than double any other foreigner. Look no further than the Genesis success to explain for a large part the plateauing of foreign sales so far in South Korea this year.
The EQ900 isn’t the only successful newcomer. The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid lands at #32 in January and soars to #22 in February (1.311 sales), curbing its enthusiasm slightly in March at #26 (1.250 units). The Kia Mohave reappears in the ranking at #25 in February and #23 in March thanks to its facelift and the Kia Niro hybrid arrives at #54 in March with four sales. But the most impressive launch goes to the Samsung SM6 (aka Renault Talisman): after a couple of very timid months (#50 in January and #41 in February), it shoots up to #8 overall in March with a stunning 6.751 sales, light years above its results so far in France and any other worldwide country for that matter. The SM6 is the first Samsung to rank inside the Top 10 in 5 years.
The Hyundai Porter takes the lead of the models ranking in January and March, earning it the year-to-date top spot above the Hyundai Avante, #1 in February, and the Kia Sorento. Boosted by its facelift, the Kia K7 soars to third place overall in February and even though it falls back down to #9 in March, it is up 3-fold so far in 2016. Similarly, the Chevrolet Spark is up 97% to #6 in February and up 88% to #2 in March. Among foreign models, the Mercedes GLC is an instant blockbuster, ranking 6th overall both in January and February and adding up to 1.062 sales in two months. The Ford Explorer also shines at #9 so far this year vs. #15 in 2015, as do the Infiniti Q50 (#11), Mercedes GLE (#14), Land Rover Discovery Sport (#15) and BMW 7 Series (#24).
One year ago (Jan): South Korea January 2015: Ssangyong Tivoli lands at #17
One year ago (Feb): South Korea February 2015: SsangYong Tivoli up to #13
One year ago (Mar): South Korea March 2015: Hyundai Porter and Sonata on top
Full January, February and March 2016 Top 30 All-brands , Top 55 local models and Top 130 foreigners below.