South Korean brands dominate high-clearance subcompact CUV segment

By Pham Trung   December 31, 2023 | 03:05 pm PT
Three new subcompact crossovers (CUVs) by South Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia outsold the combined total of the top six Japanese models in the same segment in the past 11 months.

This segment includes the A+ and B+ sub-segments, with A+ being larger than minicompacts but smaller than standard B-segment cars, and B+ filling the gap between B and C segments.

The segment, accounting for brands that disclose their sales figures, witnessed the sale of 48,896 units by the end of November. Of these, 55% were from Hyundai and Kia, while Japanese carmakers Toyota, Mazda, and Honda shared the remaining sales.

Hyundai's lineup includes the Creta (B-segment), while Kia boasts the Sonet (A+) and Seltos (B). The Japanese competitors feature Toyota's Raize (A+), Yaris Cross (B), and Corolla Cross (B+), Mazda's CX-3 (B) and CX-30 (B+), and Honda's HR-V (B).

The South Korean cars are locally assembled, which qualified them for a 50% registration fee cut by the Vietnamese government. The Japanese models, imported from Thailand or Indonesia, did not benefit from this reduction. This, coupled with lower pricing, contributed to the South Korean brands' sales lead.

The sales average for each South Korean model was 9,055 units, substantially higher than the Japanese average of 3,621 units. Toyota's Corolla Cross was the only Japanese model exceeding 8,000 sales.

In the A+ sub-segment, Kia's Sonet matched the sales of the Corolla Cross, the best-seller in the overall subcompact CUV segment. The Sonet's monthly sales have topped 1,000 units for five consecutive months and are projected to surpass the Corolla Cross by year-end.

In the standard B segment, Hyundai's Creta and Kia's Seltos are vying for the lead, outpacing the HR-V, CX-3, and Yaris Cross. The Yaris Cross, however, experienced its best sales month in November with 1,000 vehicles since its launch in September.

The B+ sub-segment has seen a shift with the Corolla Cross's supply decreasing after the introduction of the Yaris Cross. The Corolla Cross's imports have reduced from 1,000 units per month at the beginning of this year to 300 in the last three months.

Other models in the subcompact CUV segment, like the Nissan Kicks, Volkswagen T-Cross, and MG ZS, are also present but their sales figures are not publicly disclosed.

Looking ahead, the Mitsubishi Xforce, a Japanese B-segment CUV, is set to enter the market in January 2024, potentially altering the competitive landscape.

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