The South Korean automotive industry has long been an indicator of the country's economic growth with exponential growth across the decades. As Korea as an export-oriented manufacturing economy, many of the cars produced domestically were earmarked for sale overseas. Exports, unfortunately, have been falling over the past several years. Approximately 1.46 million passenger cars were exported in 2021, significantly reduced from the more than three million vehicles exported in 2012.
Declining production and exports
It is not only exports that have been declining, but production as well. A struggling global economy and stagnant demand worldwide have played a role, with fewer sales in major markets such as North America and China. The shutdown of the American General Motors' Korean subsidiary, GM Korea's Gunsan plant and strikes at other companies have also negatively impacted exports by hindering production. In some cases, production delays led to customers to reduce orders.
By its very nature, the Korean automotive industry is heavily influenced by the global economy. The domestic market is saturated and limited in size, and exports make up a large share of the industry's earnings. With the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, tightening of environmental regulations, and continuing excess supply of passenger cars around the globe, the industry is expected to continue to suffer in the coming years. The leading Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors will see some growth with their popular new models such as the Hyundai Palisade. However, automakers such as GM Korea and Renault Samsung that mainly fulfill orders for export are expected to be hit hard. For example, Renault Samsung has almost no designs of its own and instead produces foreign designs for its parent company, the French Renault, or the Japanese Nissan.
Number of passenger cars exported from South Korea from 2012 to 2021
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KAMA. (November 10, 2021). Number of passenger cars exported from South Korea from 2012 to 2021 (in 1,000s) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved June 26, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/650978/south-korea-passenger-car-export/
KAMA. "Number of passenger cars exported from South Korea from 2012 to 2021 (in 1,000s)." Chart. November 10, 2021. Statista. Accessed June 26, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/650978/south-korea-passenger-car-export/
KAMA. (2021). Number of passenger cars exported from South Korea from 2012 to 2021 (in 1,000s). Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: June 26, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/650978/south-korea-passenger-car-export/
KAMA. "Number of Passenger Cars Exported from South Korea from 2012 to 2021 (in 1,000s)." Statista, Statista Inc., 10 Nov 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/650978/south-korea-passenger-car-export/
KAMA, Number of passenger cars exported from South Korea from 2012 to 2021 (in 1,000s) Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/650978/south-korea-passenger-car-export/ (last visited June 26, 2022)