Hyundai-Kia in trouble at home image

The South Korean group, which traditionally dominates the home market has started to struggle to keep its market share as imported rivals gain pace.

For the first time in the last six years, the group’s share fell below the 70% threshold, to a 68% hold in 2013 – a decrease of 3% over 2012. The country’s free trade agreements with the European Union and the US made it possible to foreign carmakers to aggressively gain market share – taking advantage of the reduced import duties.

Although the Hyundai group’s global sales rose 4% to 7.36 million units last year thanks to rising demand in China, the company’s biggest sales drop came in the lucrative home market – where it slumped 4% in 2013 to 1.1 million vehicles.

While overall auto sales for the South Korean market remained unchanged in 2013 form the year before, the market share decline came at the expense of the rising imports, which accounted for 12% of total car sales in the region, up 2% from 2012 and 5% from three years earlier – sales for imported brands surged in 2013 by 20% to 150,000 units.

Hyundai and Kia plan to counter the rising import demand with their new models, while also investing heavily into marketing campaigns that allows customers to pit their models against those of rival carmakers. Kia already introduced its new K9 premium sedan, which had its price cut by 6 million won from the previous model, while Hyundai bets its comeback on the new Sonata.

Via Nikkei