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South Korea March 2020: Hyundai Grandeur, Kia K5 and Samsung XM3 impress in market back up 9.6%

The Hyundai Grandeur posts it largest volume since December 2016.

20/04 update: Now with Top 10 foreign models.

South Korea has managed to wrestle COVID-19 to the ground for now, going from #2 most affected country in the world as of March 6 when we initially published February 2020 data (6.284 cases) to #17 as of April 9 (10.450), with daily new infections by and large kept below 150 since March 8. As a result, its new car market has already bounced back rather spectacularly in March, with sales up 9.6% year-on-year to 171.329 vs. -19.6% in February. The year-to-date volume is now down -7% to 385.544.

The Kia K5 breaks a volume record dating back to December 2015.

Hyundai (+3.4%) trails the market slightly but is up to 38.5% share, above the 38% it commands so far in 2020. Kia (+15.3%), Renault Samsung (+83.7%) and GM Korea (+39.6%) on the other hand take full advantage of the market recovery thanks mainly to a handful of very successful new launches as we’ll see further down. In contrast, Ssangyong (-37.5%) is painfully missing any new arrival and falls down two spots on February to #5. Genesis (-1.9%) even if in slight decline, ensures the Top 6 brands are 100% Korean in March and for the first time in exactly one year – since March 2018. BMW (+60.4%), Volvo (+30.6%), Mercedes (+14.7%) and newcomer Chevrolet all outpace the market in the remainder of the Top 10 while just outside, Volkswagen (+13300%) and Audi (+710.6%) limp back up from stop-sale orders on polluting models. Quite strikingly, 13 of the remaining 18 brands in market post significant falls, with Honda (-84.1%), Infiniti (-72.6%), Jaguar (-71.9%), Lexus (-70%), Land Rover (-60.7%) and Toyota (-54.8%) the hardest hit.

The Samsung XM3 breaks into the Top 10 for its first full month of sales.

The models ranking gets a complete makeover once again this month: the Hyundai Grandeur (+57.6%) sails off in the distance with a mammoth 16.600 sales, the largest monthly volume hit by any nameplate in South Korea since the 17.247 units sold by the Grandeur itself back in December 2016. The Hyundai Porter (-2.5%), leader in February, is now almost 9.000 units below the Grandeur in the YTD ranking. The Kia K5 (+136.4%) takes full advantage of its new generation to hit 8.193 sales, a new high mark for the nameplate eclipsing the 8.079 units it sold in December 2015. The Hyundai Sonata (+20.2%) is also helped by a new model but drops one spot on last month to #4 whereas the Hyundai Palisade (-1.3%) is up 6 to #5 and the Kia Seltos up two to #6.

The Trailblazer is above 3.000 sales, a first for a Chevrolet SUV in Korea.

The biggest surprise of the month in the thunderous arrival of the Samsung XM3 aka Renault Arkana straight into the South Korean Top 10 for its first full month in market at #9, instantly becoming the 4th best-selling SUV in the country below the Palisade, Seltos and Hyundai Santa Fe. Below, the Kia K7 (+90.2%) and Samsung QM6 (+74.4%) also post fantastic year-on-year gain, while we welcome two additional newcomers inside the March Top 20: the Genesis GV80 lifts up 178% and 5 spots on February to land at #17 with just under 3.300 sales which already represents 53% of the brand’s sales for the month. For its part the Chevrolet Trailblazer soars 15 thanks to #18, also eclipsing the 3.000 monthly sales mark which is something no Chevrolet SUV had ever done in South Korea with the Trax peaking at 2.603 units in December 2016.

In the foreign models ranking, the BMW 5 Series (+44.7%) snaps its first pole position in two years (since April 2018), overtaking the Mercedes E-Class (-31.4%) while the VW Tiguan leaps back onto the podium. Mercedes also places the A-Class, GLC, CLS and C-Class inside the Top 8 just as the Porsche Panamera (+489.5%) edges up one spot on February to #7.

Previous month: South Korea February 2020: Hyundai (-26.7%), Ssangyong (-32.7%) hit by coronavirus spread, market down -19.6%

One year ago: South Korea March 2019: Ssangyong (+18.8%), Genesis (+8.5%) can’t help market down -5.7%

Full March 2020 Top 30 All-brands, Top 55 All local models and Top 10 foreign models below.

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