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SUV sales in South Korea to hit new high in 2018

18 July 2018 Jamal Amir

Sport utility vehicle (SUV) sales in South Korea are expected to grow by 10.2% year on year (y/y) to 557,100 units during 2018, equating to about 31% (up from 28.8% in 2017) of the total light-vehicle market in the country, according to IHS Markit's light-vehicle sales forecast data, which include passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles (LCVs). Within the SUV category, the D-SUV segment will remain the most popular, capturing an overall market share of 14.2% and sales of 256,187 units (up 17.3% y/y). The newly launched next-generation Hyundai Santa Fe will be the top-selling SUV model with sales of 103,002 units (up 99.4% y/y). The C-SUV segment will follow in market-share terms with sales of 158,625 units (up 3.0% y/y) and a market share of 8.8%. Sales in this segment will be led by the Kia Sportage with 44,065 units, up 8.8% y/y. The B-SUV segment will come third with sales of 122,149 units (up 8.6% y/y) and a market share of 6.8%, largely driven by strong demand for new models launched last year, such as the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic. The SsangYong Tivoli will remain the segment leader this year with sales of 44,954 units (down 18.7% y/y), followed by the Hyundai Kona (40,949 units, up 74.1% y/y) and the Kia Stonic (20,292 units, up 122.2% y/y). In the luxury segment, foreign imports will dominate the E-SUV category, sales in which are expected to decline by 3.4% y/y to 20,238 units, giving it a market share of 1.1%. Sales in the segment will be led by the Land Rover Discovery with 2,657 units, up 65.2% y/y.

In contrast to the growth in SUV sales, sedans, South Korea's biggest-selling vehicle bodytype, will register a 2.8% y/y decline in sales to 693,951 units in 2018, capturing a market share of 38.6%, down from 40.7% last year. Sales in the segment will be led by the Hyundai Grandeur sedan with 110,438 units, down 16.4% y/y. Meanwhile, sales of chassis-cab bodytype vehicles in the country will decline by 1.7% y/y to 170,297 units this year, giving them a market share of 9.5%, down 0.4 percentage point. The Hyundai Porter will lead this segment with sales of 97,654 units, down 3.7% y/y.

IHS Markit forecasts that light-vehicle sales in South Korea will come in at 1.80 million units in 2018, up 2.6% from 1.75 million units in 2017. Sales in the largest segment, passenger vehicles, are expected to grow by 2.4% to 1.59 million units during 2018, while light commercial vehicle sales will register a 4.2% increase to 209,877 units. The country's new light-vehicle market will be driven by new model launches, a recovering economy, and the resumption of sales of Volkswagen Group's models in the country, according to IHS Markit's South Korean light-vehicle sales forecasting analyst, Andy Bae.

Meanwhile, the SUV market in South Korea has increased significantly over the past few years, part of a global trend for SUVs, mainly driven by changing preferences among consumers who prefer these vehicles' taller driving positions, larger internal space, and active lifestyle image. The share of SUVs in the country's light-vehicle market grew from 15.9% in 2010 to 28.8% in 2017, according to our data.

Posted 18 July 2018 by Jamal Amir, Research Analyst

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