South Korea's domestic car market moved in two different directions this year with the rise in popularity of large sedans and sport utility vehicles standing in contrast to weaker demand for smaller vehicles, industry data showed Sunday.
In the January-November period, Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. sold a combined 698,326 units, up 0.3 percent from 696,403 cars sold a year earlier, the data showed.
It said demand for medium SUVs, such as Hyundai's all new Santa Fe, reached 207,269 units, up a sharp 29.5 percent from the same 11 months in 2017.
The total so far is expected to push medium-sized SUVs to become the country's top selling vehicle type on an annual basis in 2018. This will mark the first time such crossovers have taken the top spot in Asia's fourth-largest economy, where car buyers generally tended to favor mid- to large-size sedans.
In regard to larger crossovers, the popularity of SsangYong's G4 Rexton caused sales of such cars to jump 12.9 percent on-year to 46,734 units, further pushing up overall SUV numbers.
Industry watchers said the release of Hyundai's three-row Palisade and a longer version of the G4 will further fuel sales going into 2019, with numbers likely to get a further boost once Kia releases its own large SUV that is expected to get the Telluride name.
Besides SUVs, sales of large sedans, centered on Kia's K9 luxury sedan, caused total numbers to rise a respectable 5.7 percent to 52,945 units up till November, despite drop in demand for Hyundai's uber lux Genesis branded EQ900 that is sold as the G90 in the United States and G80 falling off vis-a-vis the year before.
On the other hand, sales of midsize and smaller vehicles dipped 0.9 percent on-year to 481,542 units, with demand for small city cars dropping 7.5 percent to 115,647 units.
"Vehicles like the Sante Fe clearly bolstered demand this year, with this trend likely to continue with the release of the Palisade and new versions of the G90 and G80 to further contribute to sales growth for bigger cars going into 2019," an industry source said. (Yonhap)