By on March 13, 2011

After Argentina,  Brazil and Libya, I am keeping the surprises coming thick and fast, with our next stop in our ‘round the world travel being… wait for it… North Korea! This way, Dear Leader Kim Jong will feel a bit less “ronery, so ronery, so ronery and sadry arone.”)

If you can’t wait for the next update and want to know all about car sales in 154 countries around the planet, simply go here.

Let’s clear the air right from the start: There are no official car sales figures available for North Korea. Didn’t think so did you? This is where my ‘alternative’ methods come in… Little bit trickier than other countries but I managed to find a few long enough and recent YouTube videos of the streets of PyongYang to get a rather clear idea of what cars sell best in North Korea.

I also have to say the task was made simpler by the fact that the same models kept coming back on screen, and to be honest, the streets of Pyongyang are not that crowded so it doesn’t take long for a rough ranking to come up.

Another (rather essential) fact to know is that the only car manufacturer/assembler in North Korea is Pyeonghwa Motors. (Wikipedia says there is a second NK car brand, but I couldn’t find any trace of it anywhere.)

Pyeonghwa has the exclusive rights to car production, to new and used car sales in North Korea and is the only company in the country permitted to advertise.

So that should make the sales ranking pretty straight-forward…

And straight-forward it is.

The best selling car in the country should be by far the Pyeonghwa Samchunri. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either. The Samchunri is a rebadged Chinese Jinbei Haise van, itself based on the 1989 Toyota Hiace. It is assembled in North Korea under license from Brilliance China Auto (which owns the brand Jinbei).

Another rebadged Brilliance, the Pyeonghwa Hwiparam II (aka Brilliance BS4) should follow at #2. If you really want to know, the Hwiparam I was a rebadged 1996 Fiat Albea. Don’t ask…

The third best selling model should be the Pyeonghwa Premio CUV, a rebadged Huanghai Shuguan. Think Hyundai Santa Fe nose, and previous generation Kia Sorento back…  some kind of Kiandai Santa Sorento, except it’s called Huanghai Shuguan.

Stop laughing, you in the back!

There do seem to be some imports, which came as a surprise to me thinking probably that as nothing came out of North Korea, nothing came in either. Well the best selling imports should be the BYD F3, #1 in China in 2010, and the Lada Priora, currently #2 in Russia.

So there you have it, the best selling cars in North Korea. Hands up who knew which was the best seller before reading this article? Right. You did learn something today!

Now if you think I’m making all this up and don’t believe a word I say, (Pyeongwhat?) that’s ok. I knew some of you would! That’s why I prepared a few links for your entertainment…

The Wikipedia page about Pyeonghwa Motors is here, and I have selected three YouTube videos of the streets of Pyongyang for you to travel through the city as if you were there:

Pyongyang streets video 1

Pyongyang streets video 2

Pyongyang streets video 3

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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9 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: In North Korea, You Can Have Any Car, As Long As It Is A Pyeonghwa...”

  • avatar

    Of course you want to stay on top of things.
    This site was made for you:

  • avatar

    Before the PyeongHwa cars came along, the North Koreans were at one point manufacturing a Mercedes 190 clone, under the name “Pyongyang 4.10”, and later by “Paekdusan”.  Therefore, the PyeongHwa can be considered its second make.

    As for the rebadged JinBei van, it is as one would expect of a late 80s Toyota, simple, well made and reasonably utilitarian.  If the North Korean variant is in anyway similiar to the Chinese clone, it is a slightly less well finished Toyota.

    As for the rebadged Brilliance BS4, this car is decidedly second-tier, even in China.  If memory serves me right, it uses a licensed 1.8L turbo engine sourced from Mitsubishi… Yes, the irony that a North Korean car should use a Japanese mill, let alone one from Mitsubishi, a company with a storied history of participating/perpetrating wartime atrocities on the Korean penninsula.

    • 0 avatar

      Right. Thanks very much for clarifying the identity of the first NK manufacturer. This all makes sense now. And thanks for the details on the Brilliance BS4. In one of those ‘things the big guys don’t want you to know’, if i remember well the Brilliance BS4 is built in the same plant that churns out Chinese BMW’s is that correct?

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, rumours have it that the BS4 is built to the same tolerances as a 3-series.   The problem with the Brilliance models is that where they about to copy much of the styling, chassis-tuning and even driving dynamics, BMW never shared its platforms… hence the less than stellar performance of the Brilliance models in crashtest.  I’ve heard that newer models are now considerably safer.

  • avatar

    Crap, how did you know I was laughing in the back?
    If you ever come across a documentary about life in North Korea, spend the time to watch it, because it is CRA-ZY.

  • avatar

    Apparently NK also produce this Fiat Palio clone —

  • avatar

    This is a great link tech98 thanks very much for sharing!
    You will notice the Fiat Palios in your video all have a boot – which makes them a Fiat Albea or Siena (crazy eh?) and it was produced and sold in NK under the Pyeonghwa Hwiparam I name from 2002 to 2006…

  • avatar

    Too bad they don’t try to make some “people’s car” like the Trabant instead those hardly affordable imported Brilliant BS4U…

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