* Now updated with the Top 30 All-brands, Top 60 local models and Top 175 foreigners *
The South Korean market is down 1% year-on-year in 2016 to 1.813.173 registrations, with local brands up 0.5% to 1.587.597 and foreign manufacturers down 8% to 225.576 and 12.4% share. Market leader Hyundai is struggling with deliveries down 11% to 35% share vs. 39.1% a year ago while sister-brand Kia (+1%), Ssangyong (+4%) and GM Korea (+14%) resist better. Hyundai’s new luxury brand Genesis makes its appearance in the ranking at #8 with an honest 23.328 sales, outselling Audi but below well below Mercedes (+20%) which overtook BMW (+1%) to become the #1 luxury brand in South Korea. But the big local news this year in South Korea is the resurrection of Renault Samsung, surging 34% to 111.101 sales and 7% share, thanks to the launch of two new models known in other parts of the world as Renaults. The Samsung SM6 (aka Renault Talisman) launched in January, peaked at #6 and lands directly in 10th place, while the QM6 (aka Renault Koleos) launched in September, peaked at #12 and lands at #27.
The other momentous event in the South Korean brands ranking is the freefalling of brands belonging to the Volkswagen Group. Affected by various stop-sales leading to zero registrations from November onwards, Volkswagen implodes at -63% to #10 while Audi is also hit full frontal at -49% to #9. Porsche (-17%) resists better. Among other foreigners worth singling out, notice Land Rover (+46%), Lexus (+33%), Honda (+47%), Volvo (+23%), Jaguar (+35%), Cadillac (+24%) and Citroen (+173%).
It’s a first in the models ranking: for the first time in at least 20 years (since BSCB started following the South Korean market in 1997), a commercial vehicle is the best-seller: the Hyundai Porter, losing less ground (-3%) than the two nameplates that outsold it in 2015: the Hyundai Sonata (-24%) and Avante (-7%). Either the Sonata or the Avante had dominated the South Korean sales charts since 2005. The Porter has however not ranked #1 since July (5 wins this year), with the Avante topping the monthly chart four times, the Hyundai Santa Fe once (September) as well as the Kia Morning (November) and Hyundai Grandeur, shooting up to 17.247 sales thanks to the new generation in December – by far the highest monthly result of any nameplate this year.
The Kia Sorento is one of the success stories of the year with sales up 4% to land in 4thplace, as well as the facelifted Chevrolet Spark up 32% and 5 ranks to #5 (overtaking the Kia Morning), The Ssangyong Tivoli is up 26% to #11 and in May became the first Ssangyong to rank inside its home Top 10 in 12 years, since the Rexton and Musso SUT in 2004. Notice also the Kia K7 up 169% to #14, the Chevrolet Malibu up 125% to #20 and the Chevrolet Impala up 64% to #31. Two alternatively fuelled local vehicles also made their entrances in the South Korean sales charts: the Kia Niro at #24 and the Hyundai Ioniq at #32.
In the foreigners aisle, the Mercedes E-Class is once again the most popular with a commanding 22.837 sales, a 16% increase on 2015. It is followed like last year by the BMW 5 Series (+8%) but this time the BMW 3 Series takes advantage of Audi’s struggles to climb on the podium despite sales down 4%. The Mercedes C-Class (+16%) is up 4 spots to #4, ahead of the Audi A6 (-35%), Mercedes S-Class (-34%) and Lexus ES (+18%). The Ford Explorer (+28%) breaks into the Top 10, with the Toyota Camry (+30%), Land Rover Discovery Sport (+166%), Honda Accord (+52%), Nissan Altima (+43%) and BMW 7 Series (+83%) also posting spectacular gains. Both the Mercedes GLC and GLE manage to spend their first full year in market inside the Top 20.
Previous month: South Korea November 2016: New Hyundai Grandeur shoots up to #3
Full Year and December 2016 Top 30 All-brands, Top 60 local models and Top 175 foreigners vs. Full Year 2015 figures below.