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South Korea May 2019: New generation lifts Hyundai Sonata to first pole position in 3.5 years

The impressive new generation Hyundai Sonata is the best-selling vehicle at home in May.

This article has been updated with the Top 85 foreign models.

The South Korean new car market drops another -4.5% year-on-year in May to 150.317 registrations as local carmakers sales’s decline (-2.6%) is accentuated by foreign manufacturers in freefall (-15.1%). Year-to-date, the market is down -3.8% to 719.314 with locals now edging down -0.3% to 628.751 and foreigners in perdition at -22.7% to 90.563. Brand-wise, Hyundai (+3.9%), Ssangyong (+4.1%) and Genesis (+19.7%) manage to go against the grain with solid gains just as Renault Samsung (-16.5%), GM Korea (-12.3%) and Kia (-9.1%) all fall rather painfully. Mercedes (+4.3%) is head and shoulders above the foreigner competition although it drops from a record #4 overall in April to #6 this month, followed by BMW (-38.7%) and Lexus (+40%) whose performances are diametrically opposed. Honda (+95.8%), Mini (+52.3%), Jeep/Chrysler (+27.9%), Infiniti (+19.8%) and Volvo (+19.5%) all post excellent results but it’s not the case for Volkswagen (-69.3%) albeit back in the ranking at #16, Land Rover (-58.4%), Peugeot (-31.2%), Porsche (-29.3%), Nissan (-28.5%) and Jaguar (-26.8%). Audi remains locked out with no sale this month.

In the local models ranking, the Hyundai Sonata (+141.4%) enjoys the full benefits of its striking new generation to snap its first pole position in 3.5 years (since November 2015). Even though the Sonata has produced a 4.000+ sales advantage over the #2 this month, it is still over 8.000 units from the YTD top spot, currently ranked at #3. The last time the Sonata topped the annual sales charts at home was in 2015, that title going to the Hyundai Porter in 2016 and the Hyundai Grandeur in 2017 and 2018. In fact the Grandeur (-20.2%) remains #1 YTD in 2019 despite a harsh drop this month, followed by the Porter (-0.5%). The Hyundai Santa Fe (-35.5%) continues to suffer from the end of its honeymoon period and the arrival of its 7-seater variant the Palisade, although the latter is down 8 spots on last month to #13. The Ssangyong Korando (+378.9%), Genesis G90 (+163.9%), Kia Niro (+82.6%), Kia Ray (+62.7%), Hyundai Grand Starex (+19.3%), Kia Sportage (+16.2%) and Hyundai Kona (+15.7%) impress.

Over in the foreign models aisle, the Mercedes E-Class (+23.5%) continue to extravagantly dominate the charts at over 3.300 sales, almost 3 times the amount of the #2 the BMW 5 Series (-45%) with Mercedes also placing the C-Class (+41.5%) and GLC (+28.9%) in the Top 4. The Honda Accord (+113.3%) leaps up 5 spots to #5 just as the VW Arteon makes a come back directly at #7 which is a new ranking record for the nameplate in South Korea. The BMW X7 is up 26 spots on it inaugural month in April to #52 while we welcome the new Lincoln Nautilus at #68.

South Korea 2016: Hyundai Porter first LCV to #1

South Korea 2017: First win for the Hyundai Grandeur

South Korea 2018: Hyundai Grandeur resists Santa Fe assault, Genesis at 3.4% share

Previous month: South Korea April 2019: Hyundai Sonata (+55%) scores first podium in 1.5 years in market down 6.6%

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

Full May 2019 Top 30 All-brands, Top 57 All-local models and Top 85 foreign models below.

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