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South Korea May 2018: Hyundai Santa Fe 3peats, foreign brands up 23%

The Hyundai Santa Fe threepeats at #1 for the first time in 14 years.

* See the Top 30 brands, Top 60 local models and Top 80 foreigners by clicking on the title *

New car sales in South Korea edge up 2% year-on-year in May to 157.433 registrations, with foreign carmakers solely responsible for this month’s gain as they soar 23% to 23.770 units and 15.1% share just as local manufacturers edge down 1% to 133.663. The year-to-date picture is identical with an overall market up a shy 2% to 747.509, foreigners up 24% to 117.098 and 15.7% share and locals down 1% to 630.411. In the brands ranking, Hyundai drops 4% to 36.3% share whereas  sister company Kia gains 8% to 29.9%. Ssangyong is down 5% to 6.2% share but remains in third place while GM Korea sinks 35% but rallies back up 3 spots on April to #4 and Renault Samsung dives 20% year-on-year and one rank on last month to #5. It is the first time since last November that the Big 5 Korean carmakers hold the Top 5 spots at home.

The Korando Sports is Ssangyong’s best-seller at home for the first time since November 2014.

Mercedes (+15%) remains the most popular foreign manufacturer but is down two spots on April to #6 ahead of BMW (+3%) down one to #6. Genesis surges 249% year-on-year but is stuck at #8, while Volkswagen returns to the Korean Top 10 for the first time sine June 2016 after a stop sale order brought its deliveries to standstill. Toyota (+71%) rounds up the Top 10 just above Audi, also back on deck after stop sales, Land Rover (+79%) and Lexus (+18%) all frankly outpacing the market. Further down, Peugeot (+43%) and Volvo (+31%) impress but the majority of other carmakers fall heavily, with Bentley (-72%), Honda (-47%), Citroen (-40%), Infiniti (-35%), Mini (-35%), Cadillac (-32%), Jaguar (-28%) and Nissan (-28%) the hardest hit.

The newly launched Samsung Clio is climbing up the ranking fast.

Model-wise, the Hyundai Santa Fe enjoys a third consecutive month as the best-selling vehicle at home, a feat it hadn’t managed since 2004, but its domination seems like it will be ending imminently, with the gap over the #2, the Hyundai Grandeur (still #1 YTD), reducing from 1.933 units in April to just 232 this month. The Hyundai Porter (-7%) and Kia Carnival (+30%) hold onto their April ranking at #3 and #4 respectively, with the Hyundai Avante (-16%) returning to the Top 5 ahead of the Kia Sorento (+1%) and Hyundai Sonata (-27%). The recently facelifted Kia K3 soars 123% year-on-year but drops four ranks on April to #9, the Ssangyong Korando Sports is up 131% and 6 ranks to hit its highest ranking in at least 6 years at #11, toppling the Tivoli to become Ssangyong’s best-seller at home for the first time since November 2014. The Samsung Clio, launched last month, leaps up 20 spots to #35 with 756 sales.

The BMW 5 Series is the best-selling foreign nameplate in South Korea in April.

Over in the foreign models ranking, the Mercedes E-Class reclaims the top spot it holds YTD off the BMW 5 Series, and is now outsold by the Genesis G90 in the premium models race. The event of the month is the return of the VW Tiguan, landing directly at a stunning 3rd place above the Audi A6 and Toyota Camry. The Mercedes S-Class is back up 5 spots on April to #6, ahead of the Mercedes C-Class (-3), Lexus ES (+1), Mercedes GLC (+1) and VW Passat GT (-3). The BMW 4 Series slices its April ranking in two at #13, the Mini Clubman is up 15 to #14, the Honda Accord is back in the game at #17, the Jeep Wrangler up 28 to #24 and the Lexus LS up 27 to #46. Notice also the Jaguar E-Pace at #81.

Previous month: South Korea April 2018: Hyundai Santa Fe scores 1st back-to-back wins in 13 years

One year ago: South Korea May 2017: Ssangyong Rexton G4 and Kia Stinger land

Full May 2018 Top 30 brands, Top 60 local models and April 2018 Top 80 foreigners below.

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