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South Korea July 2023: Kia overtakes Hyundai, places 6 models in Top 8

Kia Sportage sales double year-on-year in July.

South Korean new light vehicle sales disappoint in July with a -5.3% year-on-year drop to 135,956 units. This includes 114,818 sales by local manufacturers (-6%) and 21,138 by foreigners (-1.3%). The reason behind this fall is the end of the individual consumption tax cuts at the end of June, as well as continuing high loan interest rates. The year-to-date tally remains solidly in positive at +8.8% to 1,026,909 including 875,067 by domestic carmakers (+10.6%) and 151,827 by foreigners (-0.4%).

This month Kia (-7.7%) edges past Hyundai (+2.7%) for the first time since last November for just 376 sales. Genesis (-0.5%) manages to stay stable at #3 with 7.7% of the market, roughly the same as its YTD share. BMW (+8%) and Mercedes (-1.1%) continue to be the most successful foreigners at #4 and #5 respectively. Meanwhile GM Korea (+0.6%) bucks the negative trend thanks to the new Trax Crossover which represents 68% of its volume for the month. In contrast Renault Korea (-59.9%) and KG Mobility (ex Ssangyong, -33.7%) both implode.

The Hyundai Porter (-3.5%), #1 over the Full Year 2022, reclaims the top spot for the first time since last February, overtaking the Hyundai Grandeur (+25.9%) down significantly on the previous two months when it managed over 11,000 units. No less than six Kias follow! The Sportage (+94.5%) lodges the best year-on-year progression above the Carnival (+24.6%), Seltos (+15.8%) and Ray (+3.9%) whereas the Bongo (-11.6%) and Sorento (-18.2%) recede. If Kia is strong in the SUV and RV segments, Hyundai is strong in the sedan segment with the Grandeur, Sonata and Avante distancing their competitors the K8 K5 and K3. In contrast the Casper, Venue, Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe all finish the month below their Kia counterparts.

Over in the foreign models aisle, the BMW 5 Series (+368%) confirms it is the new best-seller above the traditional leader, the Mercedes E-Class (-26%). Mercedes however places three models in the Top 4: add the S-Class (-1.8%) and GLC (+5%). The VW Tiguan (+153.4%) is up 24 spots on last month to #5 while the Volvo XC60 (+87.3%) is up 15 to #6. The Lexus ES (+121%) also shines at #8. Notice also the BMW 6 Series (+185.5%), Mercedes G Class (+27200%!), Mercedes C-Class (+161.5%) and Volvo XC90 (+202.2%) all scoring fantastic gains. The best-selling recent launch (<12 months) is the Mercedes EQE at #12.

Previous month: South Korea June 2023: Hyundai Grandeur leads, Kia EV9 lands

One year ago: South Korea July 2022: Kia now #1 YTD, strong start for Ssangyong Torres

Full July 2023 Top 32 All brands, Top 55 All domestic models and Top 50 foreign models below.

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