By on June 13, 2015

Hyundai Kia sales chart May 2015

Hyundai’s U.S. operations produced record sales in calendar year 2014 and in the process outsold Kia – which also reported record sales last year – by an average of 12,000 sales per month. That gap was narrower than in 2013, when Hyundai typically outsold Kia by more than 15,000 sales per month.

But after outselling its Kia partner by 6,206 units in January of this year, 8475 units in February, 16,248 in March (Hyundai Motor America’s best ever month), and 14,727 units in April, Hyundai’s favourable gap narrowed to only 1,177 units in May

Yes, May, Kia Motors America’s best ever month and a month in which Hyundai sales declined 10%, year-over-year. Compared with May 2014, Hyundai’s U.S. market share slid from 4.41% to 3.89%. Kia, on the other hand, saw its market share increase from 3.73% in May 2014 to 3.82%.

Every Hyundai except the Elantra posted decreased volume, year-over-year. At Kia, despite declines from the Cadenza, K900, Optima, Rio, and Soul, the brand’s sales were up 4% because of a 19% Forte increase, a 2% Sorento improvement, and the Sedona’s 3,371-unit, 456% increase.

With 26 selling days in May 2015, Kia sold 2,401 vehicles per day last month, just 46 fewer sales per day than Hyundai.

Will Kia be able to overcome that 2% margin in the near future, or was this just the result of a confluence of incentive, inventory, and oddly timed events?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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59 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Is Kia About To Catch Hyundai In U.S. Sales?...”


  • avatar
    skor

    Hyundai, Kia, names no one even heard of a couple of decades ago. Interesting how the auto biz is now beginning to resemble the consumer electronics biz.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The majority of Hyundai’s lineup is at the later stage or end of its lifecycle, most of the Kia equivalents are a year or 2 newer on the market. Also, perhaps it is finally catching on that Kia’s are just Hyundai’s with more equipment for the same money. Who doesn’t like a bargain?

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Clearly not helping Hyundai in May was reduced year-over-year sales for the new Sonata. Perhaps some aren’t thrilled by the more-conservative resdesign.

  • avatar
    Fred

    The majority who shop these brands are looking for value, and the Kia is cheaper. Price sells.

    • 0 avatar
      Jason

      Given the same or even slightly greater price, I’d take a Kia (and I did). I generally prefer Kia styling over Hyundai’s – especially for interiors.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      But the same time, many Kia models either have a higher ATP (Optima over Sonata) or are priced higher (Cadenza > Azera) or are available in a higher trim/price-level (Kia’s SX-L trim being higher than what Hyundai offers).

      Overall, Kias tend to have the better sheetmetal, but Hyundai is starting to win some battles (the new Tucson looking better than the new Sportage – based on the Sportage spy shots).

  • avatar
    RHD

    There might be a sense of “winning” by being the sales leader, but is that really the goal? The auto business isn’t a cricket match.
    VW and Toyota suffered problems of lower quality when they chase(d) volume at all costs. Is king of the hill really the objective? Making a decent, sustainable profit while producing a quality product is much better in the long run.

  • avatar
    EAF

    For the last 4-5 years I’ve personally preferred Kia’s styling over that of Hyundai’s. In particular, Kia’s interiors, they are much nicer IMO. The Sonata, Santa Fe, and Elantra are a bit too Star Trek-ie for me. Coupled with the fact that the Optima, Sedona, and Forte are similar enough, same warranty, and can be had for less, the sales chart above is not surprising to me.

    The only reason the Optima is not on my radar is because of the lack of a manual gearbox. Although, I have several friends with Sonatas who beat the hell out of them, with aftermerket tunes, and both the engines and slushboxes have held up.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Next year when I’m looking to replace my xB, Kia’s high on my list. The one thing that could get them short shifted is that it’s getting harder and harder to find any model with a manual transmission. I think you’re limited to the base model Rio and Soul, both with limited color availability (four shades of grey and silver, plus black, or something like that) and almost no options. Plus the Forte Koup SX which is nice (six speed, no less), but good luck finding one without an automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        The Forte SX 5 door is also available with a manual.

        But good luck finding them; they’re relatively rare.

        They did offer the Rio SX with a manual, but no one bought them. Everyone screams on the internet to offer a manual and then cars sit for months on dealers lots—-if only it was an automatic—says the wife.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Looking at the local scene (Richmond, VA – north of the James) the biggest difference is that the local Hyundai dealer tacks a $2-500.00 ADM sticker on the window of each car, while the Kia dealer is willing to negotiate from factory sticker. Add in that the Kia dealer here provides the best level of service I’ve run across in a mass-market brand (running right up there with what I was used to at Richmond BMW years ago when I had a couple) in decades and it has a lot to do with why two of our three current vehicles are Kias.

    And the quality of the cars themselves have been quite acceptable.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      You live in bizzaro world if your local Hyundai dealer is tacking ADM on Hyundais.

      Every dealer I’ve ever seen advertises any Hyundai with perpetual discounts of 3k (Elantra) to 8k (Genesis), just for breathing, and more if one bothers to try and haggle.

      Check out Fitzmall’s prices in Maryland for an example of how bizarre your claims are.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        That is mind-blowing.
        ADM on a Hyundai car?
        If they’re actually moving the iron, that has to be one of the most profitable dealer environments in the USA.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Syke lives in a world where Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Great Wall, BYD & Hyundai Dealers put ADM markups on their vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            There have been a good no. of prospective buyers who have complained about ADM markups at Hyundai dealerships at certain areas/regions, so Syke is not off-base.

            Now, whether that should be the case is an entirely different matter.

      • 0 avatar
        bigdaddyp

        I live in a smallish town south of Atlanta. Last year I took my Sedona in for service just as the new Jeep Cherokees were coming out. The local Dodge, Jeep and Kia dealer had everything tagged with a $2000-$2500 add on fee. At first I thought it was just on the new Cherokees, but after looking further I realized it was on everything including the Kias.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      It takes a real special kind of stupid to pay MSRP, let alone MSRP+, for any Hyundai or Kia.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Basically for any mainstream model (sans the high-end pony cars, the Vette and the like), but if I had to pay the full MSRP, I’d rather pay it for an Optima SX-L than a loaded Camry.

  • avatar

    Kia is a 33% subsidiary of Hyundai, so its a win-win for them!

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t take one of these Korean pieces of crap as a gift.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      People who express themselves like you generally don’t make a lot of money so of course you’d take a free car.

    • 0 avatar
      Brumus

      I wouldn’t label Kia’s or Hyundai’s pieces of crap, but have noticed these things don’t appear to age as well as their Asian and even American counterparts.

      I see many middle-age Hyundai’s on the streets of Montreal (hot sellers in Quebec) that are surprisingly beat-up considering their age.

      Was in an ’07 Elantra GT a few weeks ago that was rather decrepit for a car with 150,000 km on the clock.

      • 0 avatar
        strafer

        Doubt people who buy used Hyundais pay attention to the upkeep.
        The ones that are well cared for look good as any other.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        I’ve seen plenty of torn up Corollas, Civics, Neons and Foci running around the streets of Chicago to say that if someone doesn’t give a damn about the car, no matter what brand, it’s gonna look like hell.

      • 0 avatar
        InterstateNomad

        I agree with Brumus. You see Hyundai cars maybe 8 years old with the lettering falling off the back of the car. You almost never see that with other cars. But then, that doesn’t indicate the quality of the ones out for sale now.

        • 0 avatar
          strafer

          Really? To those who are behind me, I drive a “Elemen”.
          And the chrome H logo up front fell off long ago.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The YF Sonata will soon be going on 8 yrs and I have yet to see one in bad shape (of course, by this generation, the Sonata had largely moved on to higher end of buyers).

          And even with older generations of Sonatas – have seen some pristine ones (as have pretty much all the XG350s I’ve seen, largely driven by middle aged women – granted, not that many around).

          Really depends on the owner.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’m not sure I’d get too excited about a one month aberration from the prevailing trend. December 2013, October 2014 and December 2014 also were months in which the two automakers’ sales directions went opposite from each other, but the pattern recovered soon after.

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    Now if they could just give me the Optima Exterior with the Sonata Interior.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Hyundai has gaps in their products. The Sonata took a huge step backwards with the latest refresh. Their CUV lineup is struggling. Where the Soul reinvigorated the box on wheels segment, the Velositor never delivered the sales in the funky Gen Y you want to buy this segment.The Kia minivan has weaknesses, but it has something in the segment. Where Hyundai got a bit boring and reserved in most refreshes, Kia went the others direction and most of their vehicles are sporty and aggressive in appearance. The Kia Forte 5-door is actually interesting loaded out and you can even row your own.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    In a crashing economy, cheap wins. Around my way the Killed In Action dealers tout 99 dollars and a job approval.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      H/K has always been into subprime, even ten years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        mike9o

        Hyundai’s market share was 2.9% in 2008 and grew to 4.6% in 2010. If subprime was Hyundai’s target audience, should their share have fallen not increased?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      On the basis of that argument, Kia should have overtaken Hyundai back in 2007-8, during the height of the Great Recession.

      And if you hadn’t noticed, Kias aren’t exactly cheap these days and the SX-L trim is nicer and higher priced than what Hyundai or Toyota offer in their equivalent models.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Credit markets were frozen in the period, not to mention in 2008/9 there was still more legitimate subprime competition (Chrysler 200/Caliber/Avenger, Mitsubishi’s larger lineup, and Suzuki). Fast forward to now, Suzuki is gone, Mitsu doesn’t have a full lineup, and those three subprime Chrysler products are gone (not to say FCA isn’t still into subprime just pointing it out).

        KIA seems to have figured out it can rebadge Hyundai models at a higher MSRP than Hyundai. The question is though, who is shopping KIA, people who can afford the sky high pricing or people who like the style/product and have a pulse? I don’t know for sure because I don’t have the data, but for years Hyundai and KIA were popular with subprime. If there was data to show KIA was not a fair amount into subprime I would be impressed.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          While the credit markets were frozen, Hyundai and Kia still had their respective credit arms, so if “cheap” was the selling point, then Kia would have seen a major growth spurt then.

          But Kia didn’t see a major growth spurt in sales until this outgoing gen of models (the 1st to be replaced being the Sorento; one could argue that the new Sedona is the last of the outgoing gen of models or the 1st of the new gen) – which got a significant price-hike.

          Sales of the Sorento leapt from 24.5k in 2009 to 109k in 2010 when the 2G Sorento was launched.

          Sales of the Optima leapt from 27.4k in 2010 to 84.5k in 2011 and then 152k in 2012 (as supply increased with US production of the Optima).

          This huge spike in sales was in spite of a significant spike in price for both models.

          Simply being “cheap” doesn’t sell when not seen as being competitive (hence why the earlier Kia models didn’t sell and the demise of Mitsu and Suzuki despite being even cheaper).

          These days, it’s hard to find a bad/not competitive model among the top 7-8 mainstream brands so buyers can be swayed by a great deal (which is why we had seen big fluctuations in sales of the Altima and an actual increase in the departing Pilot sales as Honda was discounting them heavily).

          2 of Kia’s top 3 selling models – the Optima and Sorento aren’t exactly cheap (like the Rio or Forte) and sales haven’t grown since 2011-12 due to capacity issues.

          Basically, the growth in sales for 2015 has pretty much come from the large increase in new Sedona sales (also not cheap).

          In addition, Kia added the SX-L trim on top of the SX trim because of customer demand – which is why the Optima not only has had an ATP higher than the Sonata (much less the Camry), but in certain months higher than the Accord.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I don’t fully understand high finance but to my limited understanding it was very difficult for anyone with good credit to secure a loan in this 08-09 period, let alone subprime.

            This list is from 2013 so maybe this has changed, but at the time 30% of the top ten models sold to subprime were KIAs

            Dodge Avenger
            Kia Forte
            Kia Optima
            Chrysler 200
            Dodge Journey
            Ford Focus
            Ram 1500
            Nissan Sentra
            Nissan Versa
            Kia Sorento

            http://loans.org/auto/news/top-cars-purchased-subprime-borrowers-92822

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            That was via the “normal” channels a la the banks which did a 180 degree turn and became very risk averse.

            Hyundai and Kia’s respective loan arms had the option of taking on the risk – so on that even playing field, Kia should have seen a greater growth but didn’t until its new (at the time) competitive models started to hit the lots in 2010.

            Also, have to be careful with the characterization of “subprime” – many make a good income but got dinged for missing a credit card payment, etc.

            The subprime borrowers with low income are not going to be purchasing an Optima or Sorento, which are 2 of Kia’s top 3 sellers (even the Sportage starts at $22k).

            The Rio is the cheapest Kia model (starting at $14k) and aside from the K900 and Cadenza, it’s the lowest volume model for Kia.

            In addition, that list was compiled by carfinance.com and only entails autos financed thru their site, so hardly an accurate depiction of the overall breakdown of buyers.

            Sure, there are buyers with weaker credit scores who buy the Optima (but the same can be said for the Camry, Altima, etc.) – but overall, the Optima has had a higher ATP than most of the rest of the segment (including, at times, the Accord) – the top 3 having been the Passat, Fusion and Accord).

            Like I had stated, there has been little change in sales of the Optima, Sorento and Soul (the top 3 sellers by far for Kia) since 2012 (while Soul sales have increased some due to the 2G model, Soul sales are on track to not match those for 2014) and the main reason why Kia has managed to creep closer to Hyundai for the near term is due to primarily to 2 things: (1) Kia has the new Sedona people mover in a market currently oriented to CUVs and larger people movers and (2) the Tucson is seeing a temporary roll back in sales as the new model is set to hit the lots.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I’ll give you my hackneyed impressions of our H/K market…

    Hyundai is the more established player, more high advert spend but people seem willing to spend more on Hundais… they are marketing themselves as Korea’s best (!!!)… in fact some of the driveaway prices of their cars are quite extraordinary… I also find the designs and interior details to be awkward and old fashioned respectively…

    Kia seems more innovative in design with a lot more thought esp. in interior design. Icing on the cake is 7yrs warranty vs. 5yr on the Hyundai… same car, more warranty, less price, better design… no brainer

    Downsides? Hyundai has a more established dealer network. Kia’s has some upheaval with dealers handing in their Kia licenses.

    Upsides? Kia dealers have better pre and post sales servicing, needing to
    ‘prove themselves’. Hyundai dealers think their *shat* dont stink which brings them in line with the Japanese and local dealers.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Kia might beat Hyundai in sales for a month or 2, but would only be temporary as Tucson sales are in that “change-over” to the new model period.

    Until this past month, Tucson sales were UP for the year and Accent, Elantra and Genesis (well, sedan) sales are up YTD.

    Once new Tucson sales are fully up and running, Hyundai should stay ahead of Kia (at least until the change-over for the new Elantra).

    Another time where Kia might overtake Hyundai is when their new Mexico plant is up and running – which will increase the supply of the Forte and the new Sportage (and maybe add a Soul variant, an e-4WD model).

    But as for right now, the main reason why Kia has managed to get so close is that Hyundai is at the end of the life-cycles for a no. of models and Kia has a large people carrier in the Sedona minivan.

    Also, the Soul is just a much more practical body-style than the niche volume Veloster and it appears that Kia, again, is making the more prudent choice when it comes to their respective upcoming hybrid/plug-in only models (Hyundai going for a fastback body-style with Kia going for the more prudent crossover).

  • avatar
    Ion

    We had a sephia, it fell apart in single digit years. We’ll never buy another cheap piece of garbage kia again. Our neighbor’s sportage had the taillights melt. It amazes me that the same people who harp on the domestics for problems 30 years ago will gladly buy the Koreans with problems less than a decade ago.

    Oh and that “warranty”? Good luck finding a dealer that stays open more than 3 years who doesn’t want you to jump through flaming hoops.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    My niece has an 06 Sonata she purchased new and has put on relatively few miles (70,000). Other than the dirtbag OE tires, two of which failed structurally and the other two wore out before 25,000 miles, she’s quite pleased with it. I think the potential for Hyundai/Kia repeat sales is pretty good.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I am a Kia/Hyundai fan…park a Sonata or Optima next to a Camry, and they just scream out “nicer car” than the Camry. Having said that, my bride is a die-hard Honda buyer and not only buys only Hondas, but only goes to one dealership.

    I do find the appliance/electronics market interesting too…LG appliances are pretty darn nice…but I don’t entirely trust electronic controls on stuff like that, from any manufacturer…give me a basic Whirlpool top loader any time. I keep waiting for our Maytag Neptune front load washer and dryer to die, no telling what fancy schmancy replacements we will wind up with.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “they just scream out “nicer car” than the Camry”

      Yes, I got that impression too. Until I started driving one. The flash was all in the sheet metal and gauges and not in the drivetrain, steering, suspension or driver seat. H/K did a good job wrapping dull cars in exciting sheet metal.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Toyota messed up the suspension on the Camry (as well as the Avalon and ES) in their attempt to make them “sportier” – no longer having that soft, plush ride that they were long known for and Toyota has long been known for really artificial/lifeless steering (not that Hyundai has been any better).

        The new Sonata has surpassed the Camry in both ride and steering feel (not that it is as good as the steering feel on say, the Mazda6).

        Heck, the box cute-ute Soul gets the nod over the Corolla for ride.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Could the “sporty” suspension be the influence of Akio? In sedans intended from the start for the least enthusiast segment of the market?

          Damn scions taking over businesses…

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Every Camry I have been in recently looks and feels like something I would rent from Enterprise. I was killing time between appointments recently and stopped in a dealership to browse the lot. The Avalons looked nice, but when I saw a $42k sticker price on the cool looking one, I about dropped dead. I thought $30k for an Accord EXL was bad, but that was amazing.
    The older I get, the more I appreciate a smooth, quiet ride, and I prefer smaller tires with taller sidewalls…cheaper to replace and softer riding.
    I do find it interesting that Hyundai Auto Group has two brands going toe to toe with each other, but from a marketing perspective I suppose it made sense to them.

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