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S. Korean car exports to Australia shows recovery

SsangYong Motor's Rexton (SsangYong Motor)
SsangYong Motor's Rexton (SsangYong Motor)
South Korean car exports to Australia are booming with the Australian economy, thanks to Australia’s recovery course from COVID-19, and companies’ local marketing strategies.

According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association on Sunday, a total of 137,547 domestic cars were exported to Australia last year, showing a 19.3 percent increase from 2020.

By brand, Hyundai Motor’s exports increased by 11.1 percent on-year to 66,846 units in 2021, and Kia’s increased by 26.9 percent to 63,981 units.

SsangYong Motor showed a remarkable export increase by 84.2 percent on-year to 2,967 units. Renault Samsung also saw a 81.3 percent increase to 3,743 units.

SsangYong Motor has been vigorously targeting the Australian auto market since 2018 by establishing its first overseas direct sales corporation in Melbourne.

The automaker has sought to establish itself in the market through active marketing such as offering test-drive events to local automotive reporters, and participating in the National 4x4 Outdoor Show, Australia’s largest and most popular auto show.

“In the fourth year of establishment of our first overseas corporation in Australia, we succeeded in turning into a surplus and achieved results in securing an active local base,” said an official from SsangYong Motor.

The automaker exported 997 Rexton, 963 Musso Grand, 629 Musso, and 378 Korando units last year.

Kia, the second-largest Korean automaker, has been benefiting from its 21-year sponsorship deal with the Australian Open, a tennis tournament.

Kia’s popular models in Australia are the K3, Pride, Sportage, Seltos, and Carnival.

Last year, 15,000 K3, 14,000 Pride, 9,000 Sportage, 9,000 Seltos, and 5,000 Carnival units were exported to Australia.

Australia is the third biggest export market for South Korean automakers after the US and Canada.

In 2019, 152,628 cars were exported, but the number dropped to 115,280 in 2020 due to COVID-19. It showed a slight recovery last year, going back up to 137,547 cars exported.

The Australian auto market sells around 1 million cars annually. Among them, 15 percent are Korean cars.

The best-selling car brands are Toyota and Mazda, selling 300,000 each annually, followed by Hyundai, Ford, and Kia.

Hyundai and Kia have recently started marketing their electric vehicles in Australia starting with the Ioniq 5 last year.

The Ioniq 5 was named the “2021 Car of the Year” by the News Corporation, Australia’s largest media group.

Early this year, Kia launched its electric car model EV6 in Australia, which has already been gaining popularity with more than 1,000 preorders.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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