Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: South Korea Sticks To Local Models

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

Over the last few weeks we have visited Panama, Colombia, China and the USA in 1975. This week I thought we would go back to Asia for a little trip to South Korea.

The kingdom of Hyundai and Kia is up there with Germany and Japan when it comes to chauvinistic tastes: having an import model in the Top 30 best-sellers is a rare occurrence…

If you’re not a fan of Hyundais and Kia, well am afraid this article is not for you! But it’s ok, I’ve prepared 159 other countries for you to visit in my blog, and I can tell you it is 아주 좋은 (very good), so click away!

Hyundai and Kia truly are the kings of South Korea, both accounting for 9 of the 10 best-selling models last month…

The Hyundai Avante (aka Elantra) has been South Korea’s best-selling model for the last 5 months and is in pole position in October with 12,625 sales for a 10.4 percent market share, its highest share since January.

The new generation Kia Morning (aka Picanto) comes in 2nd place for the fourth consecutive month in October at 9,677 units and 8 percent share…

A massive hit (it was even #1 for a couple of months) at its launch last year, the Kia K5 (aka Optima) had slowed down during 2011 but is now back on the podium in October for the first time in 13 months with 9,138 sales and 7.6 percent share.

For a long time the best-selling model in South Korea (from 2005 to 2008), the Hyundai Sonata is 4th this month with 8,791 sales and 7.3 percent share and year-to-date at 85,190 units and 6.9 percent.

The Hyundai Porter is #5 with 7.2 percent, followed by the Hyundai Grandeur at 7.1 percent and the Hyundai Grand Starex and 4.3 percent.

During 2011 all Daewoos produced in the country were renamed Chevrolet and this is why we have the Chevrolet Spark in 8th place with 4.2 percent share.

The Kia Sportage closes the Top 10 with 4,370 sales and 3.6 percent share.

Notice also the Samsung SM5 (aka Renault Latitude) at the familiar Chevrolet Cruze at

and further down the ranking the Kia Pride (aka European Rio) at #21 and the Hyundai Veloster at

Korea October 2011 Top 30

PosModelOct%1Hyundai Avante12,62510.4%2Kia Morning9,6778.0%3Kia K59,1387.6%4Hyundai Sonata8,7917.3%5Hyundai Porter8,6977.2%6Hyundai Grandeur8,6117.1%7Hyundai Grand Starex5,1754.3%8Chevrolet Spark4,9124.1%9Kia Bongo4,4763.7%10Kia Sportage R4,3703.6%11Samsung SM53,6043.0%12Hyundai Tucson ix3,2992.7%13Kia Sorento R3,2862.7%14Hyundai Accent2,3261.9%15Kia Carnival R2,2621.9%16Samsung SM32,2541.9%17Kia Forte2,2011.8%18Chevrolet Cruze1,8161.5%19Hyundai Santa Fe1,7241.4%20Chevrolet Orlando1,6121.3%

Korea year-to-date Top 30

PosModel2011%1Hyundai Avante110,1628.9%2Kia Morning100,8458.1%3Hyundai Grandeur92,0197.4%4Hyundai Sonata85,1906.9%5Hyundai Porter82,7796.7%6Kia K572,5655.9%7Chevrolet Spark54,0554.4%8Hyundai Grand Starex43,7913.5%9Kia Sportage R43,3683.5%10Kia Bongo43,0243.5%11Samsung SM542,0163.4%12Hyundai Tucson ix35,7392.9%13Kia Sorento R33,8332.7%14Kia Forte29,7062.4%15Samsung SM329,0262.3%16Chevrolet Cruze23,5901.9%17Kia Carnival R22,1981.8%18Hyundai Santa Fe21,4921.7%19Kia K719,7611.6%20Hyundai Accent19,6981.6%

When it comes to imports, the figures come with one month delay and for September the BMW 520D and the Mercedes E300. Posh tastes in South Korea! (Notice the Ford Taurus in 10th place!)

Korea Imports Top 10 for September 2011

PosModelSep1BMW 520d7442Mercedes E3007163Nissan Cube4394BMW 5284335VW Tiguan4046Audi A63057Mercedes CLS3502578VW Golf2409Toyota Camry22810Ford Taurus211

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the weekly golden nugget! Well. Some South Korean models that are very successful around the globe are not even sold in South Korea! Fancy that!

Exhibit 1: the Hyundai i20

Exhibit 2: the Hyundai i30 (ok that’s a lie, it actually sells in South Korea but is only #42 with 226 units sold in October…)

Exhibit 3: the Kia Ceed

Exhibit 4; the Hyundai i10

And that’s all for today!

You are now an expert on the South Korean market. Yes sir!

More info on the South Korean car market in October 2011 can be found here, including a Top 40.

More info on the South Korean car market since 1997 can be found here.

Many thanks to DC at and for the data in this article.

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

Matt Gasnier
Matt Gasnier

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2 of 16 comments
  • Mandalorian Mandalorian on Nov 08, 2011

    I really like the color of the Optima in the second picture. Anyway, isn't it Cee'd not Ceed. I remember Top Gear makes fun of the apostrophe on a regular basis.

  • Eldard Eldard on Nov 09, 2011

    I'm digging that Hyundai Grandeur.