Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors saw their combined domestic sales drop 12 percent on-year in November. By contrast, GM Korea and Ssangyong Motor posted their best monthly performance of the year.
Hyundai sold 54,302 cars here last month, down 11.9 percent from a year earlier. It said the on-year drop was so great because its sales in November last year were exceptionally strong thanks to temporary tax cuts the government implemented to boost consumption at that time.
Kia posted an even worse performance with sales of 38,952 cars, down more than 12 percent on-year. Sales of the K9 premium sedan hit a record low of 310 units as Hyundai launched the new Genesis in the same class.
But GM Korea sold 14,100 cars here in November, posting a record for the year, and Ssangyong sold 6,540 cars, the most for a month since 2006, replacing the previous record set in October.
Renault Samsung, which struggled in the market for a long time, saw a 2.3 percent on-year rise in the number of cars sold to 5,301 last month thanks to aggressive marketing. People who buy the SM5 or SM7 can get a refund if they are dissatisfied with the vehicle after driving it for a month.
Including exports, Renault Samsung sold a total of 14,071 cars, the most for the year.
Industry insiders attributed Hyundai and Kia's poor performance to a lack of new models in the midsize sector covering the Avante, Sonata and K5, which amounted to a significant part of this year's sales. The two automakers only managed to release partially upgraded versions.
Hyundai also suffered a dent to its image following complaints that the new Santa Fe has a water leak problem.
A senior researcher with the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade said as the import car market grows, sales of premium Korean cars are sluggish, and that is hitting Hyundai and Kia especially hard.