The automotive industry is one of the largest industries in South Korea. It is also among the foremost in the Asian region. Recently, about 4.5 million vehicles have been produced in the DPRK annually, of which almost 2 million are exported abroad. As a result, its contribution to the global automotive industry is over 5 percent, and it ranks 5-6 in the world and 3-4 in Asia. Consequently, South Korean cars are in great demand.
The auto industry began in the 1960s, simultaneously adopting the first five-year plan – a special economic development plan for five years. Since then, automotive construction has taken a powerful leap forward and has become a key industry in the country, providing large production volumes. Moreover, in South Korea, five basic companies manufacture cars. The list includes Renault Samsung Motors, SsangYong Motor, GM Daewoo Auto & Technology, Kia Motors, Hyundai Motor. They have many industrial sites outside the DPRK.
Luxury Car Brands
The category of luxury cars is represented by the equipment of the Hyundai Motor Group. These are relatively young brands founded in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Large dimensions and representative appearance characterize Their products.
1 Genesis (2015-Present)
This carmaker came about as a result of the separation of its line from the parent company. Previously, he was part of the Hyundai Motor Group and represented the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan series released in 2004. Almost ten years later, the owner announced its separation from the main manufacturer and an independent brand. There were several reasons for this.
First, Genesis hit the top 3 in sales. Second, it has been the most demanded in the segment of luxury passenger cars for seven years. Third, the customers wanted to see it as an independent trademark. So in 2015, South Korea has its premium brand with an autonomous Genesis model. In 2020, JD Power said it was the most reliable car in all of North America.
2 Renault Samsung (1994-Present)
Having appeared in 1994, the company immediately took a leading position because it was the only representative in its class. It is located in Busan, where it manufactures entry-level luxury cars. Its head office is also located there. And production facilities are divided between three cities: some of them are concentrated in Busan, a few more in Seoul, and a third in Giheung.
The company got its unusual name thanks to its owners: now, more than 80 percent of the shares are owned by Renault and about 20 percent by Samsung. It is also called RSM. At the start of its career, the brand was Samsung Motors. She started selling cars in 1998 before the great crisis hit the Asian region. The company took its current name in 2000, after buying a controlling stake in Renault. Currently, RSM has mastered the production of luxury passenger cars, crossovers, and electric vehicles.
Mass Market Brands
The mass-market segment is represented by several well-known brands that are in demand all over the world, not just in Asia. These are Hyundai, Kia, and SsangYong – longtime representatives of the automotive industry that emerged in the middle of the last century. They have accumulated vast experience in the production of passenger cars and covered a large consumer sector, in some cases pushing out European and American models.
1 Hyundai (1967-Present)
The company has been on the market since 1967 and is known as the Hyundai Motor Company. Together with its two subsidiaries (Genesis Motor and Ioniq), it forms the Hyundai Motor Group Corporation. Also, the firm owns almost 40 percent of the Kia Corporation and sells its vehicles in 193 countries worldwide. She also owns 5,000 showrooms and dealerships.
Its main production facilities are located in Ulsan, where the world’s largest integrated transport equipment manufacturing plant is located. Its annual capacity reaches 1.6 million vehicles.
2 Kia (1944-Present)
The previous name of this automotive giant is Kia Motors Corporation; the current name is Kia Corporation. It is an international structure headquartered in Seoul and occupies the second line in the list of specialized firms, behind Hyundai Motor Company’s parent company. Its sales volume reaches about 3 million units of equipment per year. Moreover, Kia owns over 20 Hyundai subsidiaries.
The company was founded in 1944 when it was called Kyungsung Precision Industry and was engaged in the manufacture of steel pipes and spare parts for bicycles. In 1951, she launched the Samchully bike, the very first in Korea. A year later, the company rebranded and changed its name, becoming Kia Industries and producing motorcycles under Honda’s license. Then trucks and cars appeared in its assortment.
3 SsangYong (1954-Present)
Today, this car manufacturer is in the top 4 in South Korea and is ranked fourth in the domestic auto industry. But this was not always the case since the company filed a lawsuit in connection with bankruptcy. It was bought by the international corporation Mahindra & Mahindra Limited from India, which owns it. The parent company owns almost 75 percent of the shares. SsangYong was founded in 1954, relaunched in 2011. The headquarters of the automaker is located in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.
The group of other automotive companies in South Korea includes two well-known firms. The first is Spirra, which represents the domestic segment of sports cars, and the second is Daewoo, which manufactures economy class cars. They are also among the leading manufacturers of road transport equipment, although they are not included in the top five South Korean leaders. They also export products to foreign markets. Also, this group includes Alpheon and Asia Motors.
1 Spirra (2007-Present)
This brand belongs to Oullim Motors Inc., which founded it in 2007, presenting the first sports car of the same name. It is a subsidiary of Oullim Networks with headquarters in Seoul and manufacturing sites in the nearby Gyeonggi-do province. The firm was co-founded by Han-Chul Kim, former designer of SsangYong, Dong-hyuk Park, creator, and CEO of Oullim Networks. The line was launched in mass production in 2008 and is supplied to the markets of various foreign countries, including the Netherlands, Malaysia, OJSC, and China.
2 Daewoo (1982-2002)
The defunct company was founded in 1982 and was engaged in the production of economy class cars. Its headquarters were located in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon province. In 2001, it went bankrupt and became part of the American automobile corporation General Motors, which acquired most of its assets. In 2011, the South Korean manufacturer was relaunched under the name GM Korea.
3 Alpheon (1983-Present)
The automaker is owned by GM Korea Company (formerly Daewoo), a subsidiary of automotive giant General Motors. It entered the market in 1983 and produced several million road cars every year, shipping them to many countries worldwide. The firm mainly focuses on the segment of economy-class sedans with designs for American passenger cars from 2010-2015.
4 Asia Motors (1965-1999)
The subsidiary company KIA Motors was founded in 1965 and, for the first time, was engaged in the production of military equipment. A few years later, she retrained and switched to heavy vehicles, SUVs, and mini-buses. In 1969, Asia Motors was bought by Dongkuk Steel, which retooled the plant to produce inexpensive export vehicles.