S. Korea’s July vehicle output falls 4% on year; rises 16% from June

South Korea produced 345,711 vehicles in July, down 3.8% year on year, but up 16.4% from June, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Aug. 18, amid higher sales.

The month-on-month increase was the second straight monthly hike, indicating that the car industry had rebounded. June’s output was up 28.5% from May, while May was down 20.2% from April.

Sales for July gained 8.9% year on year to 164,539 vehicles, but was down 20.1% from June.

Following the production trend, exports in July fell 11.7% at 181,362 vehicles from the year before, but up 43.2% from June, the ministry said, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the July figures summed up, January-July production was 17.4% lower at 1.97 million vehicles, sales at 1.09 million vehicles, up 7.5%, while exported amounted to 1 million vehicles, down 30.7% — against the corresponding 2019 period.

South Korea’s environmentally friendly vehicle sector stood out with 110,330 vehicles made over January-July, rising 32.9% from the previous year, after 17,360 vehicles were produced in July, a 39.3% spike from July 2019, but down 20.6% from June.

On the sales side, eco-friendly vehicles chalked up 27,468 units in July, up 12.5% year on year and 9.6% higher from June. January-July sales amounted to 155,094 units, a 13.7% gain from the year before.

The rebound in South Korea’s car industry has led to domestic steelmakers revising their projections for 2020. On July 31, Posco revised its annual crude steel production to 35.3 million mt, up from 34.1 million mt foreseen in April, and forecast sales at 33.8 million mt, up from a prior 32.4 million mt.

The rebound was also reflected in the country’s largest automotive producer Hyundai Motor, with its June and July domestic sales seeing a corresponding year-on-year growth of 37.2%, or 83,700 units, and 28.4%, or 77,381 units, respectively. Its accumulated year-to-date sales managed to attain a 4.0% growth on year, to 461,994 units, largely due to the rebound in volumes in June and July.

— Clement Choo, Samuel Chin