Domestic sales by South Korea's five largest automakers combined rose by 2.4% to 133,792 vehicles in July from 130,611 units in the same month of last year, according to preliminary data released individually by the vehicle manufacturers.
The data did not include sales by low-volume commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Tata-Daewoo and Daewoo Bus Corporation, which typically account for less than 1% of the domestic vehicle market.
Also not included were sales of imported vehicles, which accounted for around 13% of the total vehicle market last year. These will be covered in a separate report when the data is released later in the month.
The domestic vehicle manufacturers reported mixed results for last month, with Hyundai posting a slight sales rise – of 1.3% to 60,367 units – despite industrial action which held back local production last month. Kia reported a stronger rise, of 7.8% to 47,000 units, helped by new model launches in the first half.
New SUV models also helped Ssangyong post a 13.5% rise in domestic sales to 9,823 units in July while GM Korea struggled to keep up – with sales falling by almost 17% to 9,000 units. Renault-Samsung's sales were also down, by 4.1% at 7,602 units.
The South Korean domestic market remains a tough place to do business, with hefty discounts and incentives required to get deals over the line – particularly for older models.
Overall domestic sales declined by 2.1% to 890,795 units in the first seven months of the year compared with 910,296 units in the same period of last year.
Global sales by the country's 'big five' automakers, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, fell by 3% to 639,099 units in July from 658,939 units a year earlier – reflecting weaker overseas sales. Global sales in the first seven months of the year were up by 1.4% at 4,693,661 units from 4,626,794 units previously.
Overseas sales, including vehicles produced overseas by Hyundai and Kia, declined by 4.4% to 505,307 units last month from 528,328 units in the same month last year, reflecting weaker sales in the US and China which more than offset gains made in other key markets such as India.
Overseas sales in the first seven months of the year were still 2.5% higher at 3,803,442 units compared with 3,709,695 units in the year-earlier period.
Hyundai Motor's global sales fell by 6.5% to 339,694 units in July from 363,127 units a year earlier after a sharp bounce in the previous month, reflecting strike action at its domestic plants and slower sales in key overseas markets. Deliveries in the first seven months of the year were still 3% higher at 2,582,594 units from 2,507,979 units previously.
Hyundai's domestic sales rose by 1.3% to 60,367 units last month from 59,614 units a year earlier, helped by the recent launch of the new Santa Fe and Kona SUVs. Sales in the first seven months of the year were 2.6% higher at 414,748 units compared with 404,397 units a year earlier.
Hyundai's overseas sales fell by 8% to 279,327 units in July compared with 303,513 units a year earlier, reflecting weaker sales in China and the US. The company expects the imminent launch of the Santa Fe in the US and the Tucson in China will help overseas sales continue to rebound in the second half of the year.
In the first seven months of the year overseas sales were still 3% higher at 2,167,357 units compared with 2,103,582 units a year earlier.
Kia Motors' global sales continued to rebound in July, with volumes rising by 5.1% to 230,878 units from 219,699 units a year earlier on higher domestic and overseas sales. In the first seven months of the year overall sales were 4.4% higher at 1,615,672 from 1,548,291 units a year earlier.
Domestic sales rebounded by 7.8% to 47,000 units in July from 43,611 units a year earlier, as buyers responded to the recent new model launches including the new K9 luxury flagship, the Stonic compact SUV and the new K3 compact sedan.
Domestic sales in the first seven months of the year were 5.1% higher at 314,700 units compared with 299,544 units previously.
Overseas sales increased by 4.4% to 183,878 units last month from 176,088 units a year earlier, with rising sales in Europe more than offsetting weaker sales in the US. In the first seven months of the year overseas sales were 7.2% higher at 1,297,960 units compared with 1,211,139 units a year earlier.
The company expects a 25% sales rebound in China to 450,000 units this year from depressed levels last year and stronger second-half sales in the US.
GM Korea's global sales fell by 10.5% to 37,046 units in July from 41,406 a year earlier, reflecting sharp declines both in its home market and overseas. Sales in the seven months of the year were 11.5% lower at 283,432 units compared with 320,405 units in the same period of 2017.
Domestic sales plunged by 16.7% to 9,000 units in July from 10,801 units a year earlier, despite the launch of the US-made Equinox SUV in the previous month. The brand is struggling to regain consumer confidence following the company's fight for survival earlier in the year.
GM Korea has struggled for some years to keep up with the new product programmes of its larger rivals in this market and this is reflected in its cumulative seven-month domestic sales, which fell by 38% to 51,497 units from 83,509 units in the same period of last year.
GM Korea has pledged to launch 15 new models in its domestic market over the next five years, after its main shareholders injected fresh capital in the company after a broad cost-cutting programme was agreed in April, which included the closure of one of its main assembly plants in the country.
Exports fell by 8.4% to 28,046 units last month from 30,605 units a year earlier and were 2.1% lower at 231,935 units in the first seven months of the year from 236,896 units previously.
Renault-Samsung's global sales fell by over 20% to 18,565 units in July from 23,294 units a year earlier, reflecting lower domestic and export sales. Overall sales in the first seven months of the year were 9.2% lower at 144,583 units compared with 159,189 units previously.
Domestic sales continued to fall last month, by 4.1% to 7,602 units from 7,927 units a year earlier, while cumulative seven-month sales were more than 20% lower at 48,522 units from 60,807 units.
Exports declined by close to 29% to 10,963 units in July from 15,367 units a year earlier on lower overseas demand for the Rogue SUV, and were 2.4% lower at 96,061 units in the first seven months of the year compared with 98,380 units previously.
Ssangyong Motor, majority-owned by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, reported a 10.6% rise in built-up vehicle sales to 12,628 units in July from 11,413 units a year earlier – reflecting strong domestic sales and export growth.
Global sales in the first seven months of the year were still 2.7% lower at 79,576 units from 81,758 units previously.
Domestic sales jumped by 13.5% to 9,823 units last month from 8,658 units a year earlier, but were 1.3% lower at 61,328 units in the January-July period from 62,127 units previously.
Exports rose by 12.3% year-on-year to 3,093 units in July from 2,755 units, but were still down by 4.8% at 18,698 units in the first seven months of the year from 19,631 units.