06 June 2012

Car Sales Korea (Total): 2011

When you look at the Korean market, you soon see something is amiss. When people are offered choice, unhindered by government intervention, then many brands will do well. Import duties among other things create imbalanced sales. That is what has happened in Korea. It wants to export, but not import, an attitude seen across Asia. To see what I mean, below shows passenger car sales for 2011, market share and percentage change:

1 Hyundai 499,043
39.7% +3.5%
2 Kia 436,672
33.2% +0.4%
3 GM Daewoo 127,697
9.7% +13.5%
4 Samsung 109,221
8.3% -29.9%
5 Ssangyong 38,651
2.9% +19.1%
Imports 105,037
8.0% +16.0%
Total 1,313,321
0.6% increase.

Imports are making inroads, a positive trend that looks likely to continue. Still, most imports are premium models, not everyday hacks. Therefore, it must be an incredibly boring place to buy a basic car if all you can consider is a few local models. I recently tested a Hyundai i20, and cars don't come any more ordinary than that one does. Zzzzz.

In summary: Hopefully one day more imports and better selection of fairly priced cars for Korean buyers.

Source: Kama


  1. Funny, the i20 isn't on sale in Korea.
    The thing is, with the Koreans prefering blandness and appliance-like qualities in automobiles, why should they buy foreign (read Japanese) when their own production is on par?

  2. When people are given a choice with comparably priced vehicles, they choose different brands. In any country, people often buy an imported brand when there is a locally made equivalent. They don't in Korea because the imported version is slapped with heavy duty. Most imports are premium brands, which don't have local competition. Also, in the premium sector, it is not as price sensitive anyway.
    There are very few Japanese 'appliance' cars sold in Korea.

  3. Well, I guess there's still some work to be done in ROK to level the field, yet IMO there's nothing wrong with prefering domestic offerings. As for the premium brands, I'd say anything on the cheaper side of Maserati isn't price insensitive. :-)
    P.S. I really like this blog, keep up good work, good sir!

  4. Supporting the locally made product is a good way to go. However, as you say it should be done with a level playing field. I'm glad you enjoy the blog. Thank you.