South Korean Automakers Feeling the Heat

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
south korean automakers feeling the heat

As Canada struggles to hammer out a trade agreement with South Korea, the automotive trade imbalance has taken center stage. And no wonder. According to the Canadian Auto Workers, South Korea imported fewer than 500 Canada-made vehicles last year– as compared to the 200k Korean cars sold in Canada during the same period. In total, South Korean only welcomed 43,492 imported autos in '06. And for "good" reason. Although that meager total accounts for just four percent of South Korea's total new car sales, Chosun reports that it also represents a 32 percent increase over the previous year. And that's got South Korea worried. "Considering that Hyundai Motor's growth rate for the same period was 9.6 percent and Kia's was just 2.5 percent, the imported car sector's growth is alarming." At the same time, the types of cars entering the Republic has changed, from the early imported luxobarges to today's wider range of mass market motors. Honda, in particular, is kicking ass, doubling its sales. And here's the kicker: Toyota ain't even in the game yet. Meanwhile, one wonders what GM's take is on all this, as it has a large manufacturing bases in both Canada AND South Korea. GM's Daewoo brand currently owns about 30 percent of its domestic market. [thanks to starlightmica for the link]

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  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Nov 30, 2007

    The US manufacturers should try to sell something there. When I was there in the eighties, there was a definite split of the populace. Young people who hated the USA (who were covered by the US press all the time), and older adults who worshipped the USA and would open their home to any US soldier that happened by. They would tell you stories that would make you so proud to be an American you could just cry. Some of them would buy our cars just out of sentiment.

  • Starlightmica Starlightmica on Nov 30, 2007

    Around 1990 or so, the Mercury Sable was a very popular car in South Korea. Why? groupthink, I guess. The government at that time went on an anti-import kick, both fiscally and socially, going to the extent to get people to demean those who bought Sables and other imports. Sable sales went down the toilet, and that was the end of that.

  • GS650G GS650G on Nov 30, 2007

    japanese cars are not seen in korea. Any study of history should explain why. If you own a japanese car in seoul be prepared to have broken mirrors, scratches and flat tires. Then try to find someone to fix it. Hyundai imported knock down acuras from japan and assembled them under their nameplate. This also taught Hyundai a thing or two about making better cars. Honda screwed up on that one. Daewoo's are hated cars in Korea, Ssyangyong recently was bought be SAIC, samsung sells a Nissan that is assembled there. Hyundai pretty much owns the market

  • Safe as milk Safe as milk on Dec 01, 2007

    it's not just canada. south koreans are pretty annoyed at the taxes that are added to imported goods in general. the government knows that it has to continue to lower the import barriers. i was surprised at how many lexi i saw there last year. i don't think koreans are vandalizing japanese cars as much anymore but a toyota won't make you popular with grandma, that's for sure. gas is double the price there. diesels are very popular. they love german cars. they are by far the most popular imports. my father-in-law was asking about fords. he drives an eight year old hyundai grandeur (azera). meh. i think the ford edge might work there.