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South Korea’s Automobile Sales by Segment: Demand Continued to Shift to Large / Premium Cars and SUVs in 2020

South Korea’s automobile market increased 5.2% to 1.87 million units in 2020, expanding despite the pandemic thanks to tax cuts. Demand continued to shift to large and premium cars and SUVs. In particular, SUVs increased over 20% due to strong sales of new medium and large, and premium models. Passenger cars rose 1.0% to 818,000 units, largely remaining on the previous year’s level. The A, B, C and D car segments declined or their rate of increase was below market average. The medium (D) segment declined 6.4% to 176,000 units. The Hyundai Sonata fell 32.6% to 67,000 units, dropping from top position, while the Kia K5 took the lead with 85,000 units, up 2.1-fold. The fully-redesigned version of the Sonata was launched in March 2019 and that of the K5 in December of the same year, so their new vehicle effect did not completely overlap each other. The large (D / E) car segment increased 13.2% to 187,000 units. The Hyundai Grandeur, which received a facelift in November 2019, increased 40.7% to 145,000 units. The sales of medium and large premium models rose 8.4% to 200,000 units. The fully-redesigned Genesis G80, launched in March 2020, recaptured its top position from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class thanks to going up 2.5-fold to 56,000 units.

SUVs rose 16.0% to 714,000 units. Of which, small SUVs decreased 10.1% to 149,000 units. The Ssangyong Tivoli decreased 33.8% to 23,000 units. The Kia Seltos took top position with 49,000 units. Medium and large SUVs rose 20.8% to 453,000 units. The Kia Sorento, which was fully-redesigned in February 2020, rose 57.2% to 82,000 units, ranking first in the segment. The Hyundai Palisade took second place with 65,000 units, up 23.9%. The Renault Samsung XM3 and Chevrolet Trailblazer, which were launched in March and January 2020, sold 34,000 units and 21,000 units, respectively. Premium SUVs went up 84.6% to 99,000 units. The Genesis GV80, introduced in January 2020, took first place with 34,000 units.

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