(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) South Korean auto sales jumped 22.2 % in January from a year earlier, driven mainly by brisk sales abroad, industry data showed Friday.
The combined sales of the country's five carmakers led by industry leader Hyundai Motor Co. came in at 756,255 units last month, compared with 618,853 vehicles sold a year ago, according to data released by the companies. The other four automakers are Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co.
Their outbound shipments powered the overall sales increase, with 651,878 units shipped overseas, up 24.9 % on-year, and domestic sales went up 8.2 % to 104,377 units in the first month of the year.
However, the January domestic sales represent a 23 % drop from 135,669 units from the previous month, due to the expiration of a government-led tax reduction policy.
The Seoul government had offered a 5 % tax cut benefit to car buyers from September to December in a bid to boost domestic consumption. Hyundai Motor sold 362,509 vehicles outside of South Korea, up 30.5 % on-year, with 110,116 units produced at local plants and 252,393 units at overseas plants.
"We will face a more difficult business environment this year due to weakening car demand even in emerging markets and currency fluctuations," said Hyundai Motor in a statement. In South Korea, Hyundai strengthened its dominance selling 50,211 vehicles last month, up 11.1 % on-year.
The Grandeur large-size sedan regained the best-selling car status for the first time in 11 months, with 8,027 units sold, narrowly beating the Sonata mid-size sedan with 7,031 units. Kia Motors also saw its overseas sales jump 26.8 % on-year to 224,322 units on the back of steady sales of its popular models.
The new Pride subcompact, or the Rio in the United States, was Kia's global best-selling model with 42,048 units sold worldwide, followed by the K3 compact, or the Forte, with 37,496 units.
The second-largest carmaker experienced its domestic sales climb 6 % on-year to 36,250 units last month, with the Morning mini car being Kia's top-selling model with 7,722 units.
The combined market share of Hyundai and Kia, the flagship companies of Hyundai Motor Group, reached 82.8 % in January in South Korea, up from an 81.9 % share for 2012.
No. 3 player GM Korea, the local unit of U.S. General Motors Co., was the biggest winner in the domestic market last month, with sales jumping 24.7 % on-year to 10,031 units.
Sales of the Chevrolet Spark city car led the company's stellar sales, with a 47.7 % jump to 5,125 units. "We have gotten off to a good start in 2013," said Ankush Arora, GM Korea vice president of vehicles sales, in a statement.
"We expect sales to remain robust as we introduce new products such as the Chevrolet Trax, which we recently started taking pre-orders for, and continue our customer-driven marketing and innovative customer service programs."
Ssangyong Motor and Renault Samsung changed their rank in the domestic car market, while former No. 4 Renault Samsung has experienced a severe sales slump at home.
Domestic sales of Ssangyong soared 43.9 % on-year to 4,035 vehicles, driven by brisk sales of its Korando C model with 1,435 units sold. However, Renault Samsung's domestic sales plummeted 38 % on-year to 3,850 units.
Last year's sales of the South Korean auto manufacturers were 8.2 million vehicles, topping the 8 million mark for the first time amid the deepening economic slowdown at home and abroad.