European success of South Korean car brands

European success of South Korean car brands

Asia’s competitive outlook has repeatedly plagued the European auto industry. Today, Japanese companies are having mixed fortunes and the expectations expressed by Chinese brands – whose sales are still embryonic – are frightening. However, if we consider the reality of the market, it is the South Korean producers who seem to be the most formidable competitors.

The past two years, highlighted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and difficulties in supplying semiconductors, have seen the market shares of Hyundai and Kia, two brands of Hyundai Motor Group, increase. , which announced, at the end of July, quarterly results of 2 billion euros, up 59%. While car sales in the European Union fell by 14% in the first half, the Korean duo were the only ones to experience a positive trend. The two products, which are neck and neck, represent 9.6% of total European registrations, a gain of three points compared to 2019. In the same period, Hyundai rose from 1.8% to 3.1% of the French market and Kia from 2% to 3%.

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These protests are not new, but they have increased. The group, which has half of its sales in Europe from its factories in the Czech Republic and Turkey, remains closely connected to its Korean supplier network. This allowed it, at least initially, not to go through the same severe manufacturing constraints as many of its competitors. During the second quarter, Hyundai Motor Group factories returned to overtime, emphasizes the group. “At the same time, we have given priority to supplying the European market, which we know is the most profitable”, Says Lionel French Keogh, President of Hyundai France.

The development of these two brands is also based on their ability to feed the development of the market, especially the forced march towards electrification, thanks to which they have forged technological credibility. Only (along with Porche) to offer an 800-volt architecture, some of the latest Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles can accumulate on a high-powered station on the road that is equivalent to 130 kilometers of autonomy in just seven minutes. “51% of our sales are hybrid or all-electric and this commitment is not new,” insists Marc Hedrich, president of Kia France, who remembers that the launch of the electric Soul began in 2014.

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