When it comes to growth, Korean automakers have taken the global market by storm, especially the South Korean automobile industry. South Korea has much higher vehicle production than North Korea. North Korean automobile production is focused on the Korean People’s Army, construction, and industrial goals with only little car ownership by private citizens. On the contrary, South Korean automobile production is focused more on personal passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Over the past few decades, the South Korean automotive industry has dramatically expanded. In 2017, it was the sixth-largest in the world by production and the fifth-largest by automobile export volume. It plays a major role in the nation’s total GDP by contributing over 10% every year.
The Korean car industry began in 1955 by merely assembling parts imported from foreign countries. According to an “Automobile Industry Promotion Policy”, foreign automakers were barred from operating in Korea, except in joint ventures with local business entities. The first Korean automobile was developed in 1973 known as Hyundai Pony. Towards the end of 20th century, Korean car manufacturers began production of large cars and broaden their product ranges to meet every customer’s needs. Despite the continuous ups and downs over the last few years, the country still holds its place as one of the leading car manufacturers by giving US$74.7 billion business only through the export.
The Korean automobile market is driven by five major car brands namely, Hyundai Motor Group, Kia Motors, GM Korea, SsangYong, and Renault Samsung. These brands are known for quality, reliability, and performance. According to data revealed by the International Organization of Motor Vehicles manufacturers, South Korea manufactured 4,114,913 auto vehicles in 2017, including 3,735,399 passenger cars and 379,514 commercial vehicles.
Let’s explore more about these ruling Korean car brands and appreciate the elegance of the Korean cars logo. We start with the best and here is a Korean car brands list.
Headquarters:Seoul, South Korea
Parent Company:Hyundai Motor Group
This South Korean multinational automotive company is the leading car brand in the Korean market and 11th among the largest car companies in the world. Hyundai works with Sedans, Hatchbacks, Sports cars, SUVs, Vans, Commercial vehicles, and engines. Additionally, it is known for Korean luxury cars and Korean sportscar. It operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility, which is capable to produce 1.6 million units annually. This Korean car brand sells vehicles in 193 countries and employs about 80K people worldwide. Hyundai owned two subsidiaries, Kia Motors (32.8%) and Genesis Motors (100%).
Founded as Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company in 1947, the company was established as Hyundai Motor Company in 1967. A year later, this Korean automaker introduced their first car, the Cortina, with the Cooperation with Ford Motor Company. The first Korean-made car, the Pony, was launched in 1975 and exports began in the following year. 10 years later Hyundai made their one-millionth cars. In the late 20th century, this Korean car company attempted to establish itself as a world-class brand. It invested heavily in the latest technology, adverting, quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term research of its vehicles. Soon, Hyundai set the benchmark in quality, ranking second in ‘initial quality’ in a 2014 survey by J.D. Power and Associates.
The logo of this Korean car brand is itself a symbol of respect, trust, and the mutual bond between the company and its consumers. The brand logo represents two human figures, one of the customers and the other one of the company, united in a handshake. Hyundai manufactures models with unique designs and great quality. Some great examples of their unique designs are Veloster, Santa Fe, Elantra, and Tucson, which did not take a long time to reach success. This Korean top car brand is ready to give tough competition to foreign carmakers with its lineup models including a luxury sedan, a sports coupe, and two new SUVs planning to be introduced in 2020.
Headquarters:Seoul, South Korea
Parent Company:Hyundai Motor Group
Kia is the second largest Korean automobile manufacturer and sells products worldwide except in Japan. This luxury car brand specializes in passenger cars, commercial vehicles, hybrid electric vehicle vans, and South Korean SUVs. Kia manufactures around 3 million vehicles every year and has nearly 65k employees working in its 14 manufacturing plants situated in 5 different countries. The Korean top brand, Hyundai, is its sister company and owns 33.88% of Kia Motor Corporation. As sister companies, they own a combined of 70% of the South Korean Auto market.
Founded in 1944, it is the oldest Korean vehicle manufacturer. Kia started the business by producing bicycle parts and introduced the first passenger car in 1974. Until 1981, this Korean car brand built the small Brisa range of cars but then it is forced to give up passenger cars due to enforced industry consolidation. In 1986, Kia rejoined the automobile industry in partnership with Ford. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997, this Korean automaker declared bankruptcy and so signed an agreement with Hyundai in 1998 to diversify by exchanging ownership between both companies. The turning point for this Korean luxury car brand was when the Government gave them the order to create KIA K131, which defined the future of the brand.
Kia provides a great combination of quality and price. Kia also has sponsorships with major sporting events like FIFA, UEFA, NBA, LPGA and the Australian Open tennis championship, which aided the company in gaining the respect and trust of the customers. Kia offers a range of vehicles from passenger cars like Picanto, Picanto LPG, Rio 4-door, Rio 5-door, Cerato/Forte, Cerato/ Forte 5-door, Cerato KOUP, Ceed, Ceed GT, Ceed Sportswagon to commercials vehicles such as K2500, K2700, K3000S, and K4000G.
Headquarters:Bupyeong, Incheon, South Korea
Parent Company:General Motors Investment Pty Ltd.
This subsidiary of General Motors is the third-largest automobile manufacturer in South Korea. GM Korea has the capacity to manufacture 9.2 million finished cars, 1.4 million engines and transmissions at four domestic plants in South Korea. This Korean automobile company offers region and brand-specific vehicle assembly kits for assembly by General Motors affiliates in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the United States. Additionally, it produces vehicle kits for Buick, Chevrolet, Holden, and Open that are provided in more than 150 markets on six continents.
The roots of GM Korea go back to Shinjin Motors after Toyota’s withdrawal from the company and General Motors purchased a 50% stake. However, the name was changed to Saehan Motors in 1976. Due to insufficient funds, Korean Development Bank took over management in 1976. In 1982, this Korean car brand was purchased by Daewoo Group, and the name was changed to Daewoo Motor. After the Asian financial crisis, Daewoo acquired SsangYong in 1998 but it ran into trouble and so sold to GM affiliate SAIC in 2001. Most of the former Daewoo products were rebadged as Chevrolets. GM’s luxury division Cadillac is also available in South Korea.
After a few name changes and partnerships, GM Korea is now the third-largest automobile company in South Korea. The first car produced under the current name was the 2002 Daewoo Lacetti, which became a GM world car. This Korean car brand owns 7.2% of the South Korean auto market. GM Korea has produced many models and some popular ones include Chevrolet Captiva, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Orlando, and Damas/Labo.
SsangYong Motor Company
Headquarters:Seoul, South Korea
Parent Company:Mahindra& Mahindra Limited
SsangYong Motor is a subsidiary of Indian multinational car manufacturing corporation Mahindra & Mahindra. It specializes in SUVs, Pickup Trucks, Vans, Buses and luxury cars. However, it only exports SUVs and luxury cars through some 1,600 sales outlets in over 126 countries. This Korean Car brand is respected all over the world for its advanced styling and outstanding performance.
This Korean auto brand was originally started as two separate companies; Ha Dong-hwan Motor Workshop (established in 1954) and Dongbang Motor Co (established in 1962). In 1963, the two companies merged into Ha Dong-hwan Motor Co. to rebuild jeeps, trucks, and buses to be shipped to the USA. In 1986, the company was acquired by SsangYong Business Group. In 1991, SsangYong started a technological partnership with Daimler-Benz to produce SUVs with Mercedes-Benz technology. In late 2004, SAIC took a 51% stake in SsangYong Motor Company. In 2011, after some financial difficulties, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. acquired the company to help it reach the zenith of success and it actually worked.
This Korean car brand is accelerating its efforts to produce new designs and technologies that can achieve high driving performance and reflect the company’s true identity. Some of the best models by this Korean automobile manufacturer are Tivoli, Chairman W, Rexton W, and Korando.
Renault Samsung Motors
Headquarters:Busan, South Korea
This Korean luxury car brand is known for its service quality, innovative technology, high quality, and luxury. This Korean car brand deals with luxury cars, electric models, and crossovers. Renault Samsung was recently voted number one for customer satisfaction in sales and after-sales for the 15th consecutive year. It sold 99,846 vehicles in 2017, which led it to become one of the top five car manufacturers in Korea.
The brand was first established as Samsung Motors in 1994 with technical assistance from Nissan. However, after the Asian financial crisis, Renault acquired it in 2000 and renamed it as Renault Samsung Motors. Today, Renault has an 80.1% stake while the remaining 19.9% is still owned by Samsung. The first car manufactured by the company was the Renault Samsung SM5, which improved the company’s sales and increased confidence in the model within the rest of their customer base. Over time, Renault Samsung became an export-oriented auto manufacturer, exporting under Nissan or Renault brand. In the United States and Canada, vehicles from this Korean car brand are well known as the Nissan Rogue.
The seven models in the Renault Samsung Motors range are distinctive with specific characteristics, designed to satisfy demanding customers looking for cutting-edge technology. QM5, for example, combines the comfort of a sedan with the interior space of an MPV, while SM7 is a flexible, dynamic vehicle delivering excellent drivability in all types of environments. With their sole purpose of ‘Never comprise on quality’, this Korean auto brand has been satisfying their customers successfully. Some of the best models by Renault Samsung include SM5, SM7 QM5, and QM6. Also, it unveiled the new SM3 Z.E. the only three-box sedan in the South Korean market.
There are also some minor Korean car brands which are still competing to be on the top 5 list.
- CT & T United
Years:2002 – Present
- Genesis Motors
Years:2015 – Present
- Zyle Daewoo Bus Corporation
Years:2002 – Present
In the future, electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel-cell electric vehicles will be the center focus of the Korean car brands. Those days are not very far when the Korean automotive industry will control the market. Korea will continue to lead the automotive market and soon reach the first spot.
There are five automobile manufacturers in Korea (Hyundai Motors, Kia Motors, GM Korea, Renault Samsung, and SsangYong Motors).Which car is popular in Korea? ›
Korea's best-selling car is not the Hyundai Sonata, but something rarely exported.
|Top-10 selling cars in Korea for 2020 (unit sales)|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||57,578|
Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea's largest car manufacturer, The group was formed through the purchase of 51% of South Korea's second largest car company, Kia Motors, by Hyundai Motor Company in 1998. Let's take a look!Are Korean cars better than Japanese? ›
While Korean cars are attractive with their high-tech features and design, no one beats Japanese cars when it comes to safety. Many drivers find a lot of stability in Japanese cars. Oftentimes, you'll be able to enjoy the car for ten years with minimal repairs.Are cars cheap in Korea? ›
We've already mentioned that Korean cars are cheap compared to cars manufactured in other countries, but even at their affordable prices, they still manage to give customers more value for their money.How many cars are made in Korea? ›
1/10 2022 Genesis G90 ($74,950)
The Genesis G90 comes into 2022 oozing luxury, packed with technology, boasting silky smooth engines, and offered at a competitive price tag.
Most people drive domestic cars e. g., Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis (and some Renault, Chevy, and Ssangyong that are built here too). Hyundai and Kia are by far the most prominent car makes on Korean road.Which car brand has the best quality? ›
- Porsche – 90.74% Key points: Classic Porsche strong points make a great showing here, with top ratings for exterior, ride and handling, reliability and infotainment. ...
- Tesla – 90.50% ...
- Kia – 90.40% ...
- Peugeot – 89.28% ...
- Honda – 88.94% ...
- Jaguar – 88.90% ...
- Mazda – 88.89% ...
- Volvo – 88.35%
Unit sales of the bestselling cars in South Korea 2021.
|Characteristic||Number of unit sales|
As a matter of fact, Korean manufacturers make some of the safest vehicles on the road today. Features like Front Crash Prevention and LED Headlights have landed late model KIA vehicles, for example, on the IIHS "Top Safety Pick +" list for the past several years.What's the most popular car in North Korea? ›
Lee: North Koreans consider Mercedes-Benz to be the most prestigious car brand. In the past, the government bought them in bulk and gave them out to top cadres. There are still many 80s and 90s Mercedes-Benz models in use among central party members.Which car is used by BTS? ›
The BTS members have a variety of luxury cars and automobiles. These choices are all over the place, from Jin's Porsche Panamera to V's Genesis SUV and even a Lamborghini Aventador S.Is there any Bugatti in Korea? ›
Car enthusiasts speculated that the supercar G-Dragon certified was the only white Bugatti Chiron in South Korea.Why Korean cars are cheaper? ›
Most of Kia's other models are built at plants in South Korea, where production is cheaper than in the U.S. Even though Kia only has one plant in the U.S., that's enough to make the automaker exempt from paying a tariff.Why do Koreans buy white cars? ›
Korean motorists may have different reasons for choosing white, but their preference for achromatic colors could be related to their lack of color education, and perhaps, their personality, local experts say. “Koreans have no pleasure in diverse colors.What is the number 1 most reliable car? ›
- Lexus. This brand stays at the top, year after year. ...
- Toyota. Many Toyota models are among the most popular cars worldwide because they are affordable, dependable, and easy to maintain.
- Mazda. ...
- Kia. ...
- Honda. ...
- Buick. ...
South Korea is much more than Seoul and the other major cities where you can get quickly and easily by train. Get ready to explore the less-touristy spots of this rugged gem. Driving in South Korea is not difficult at all.Can foreigner buy car in Korea? ›
Foreign residents can buy a new or used car in South Korea without any special restrictions. For all buyers, regardless of their nationality, registration of the car must be completed within 15 days of purchase.Is South Korea cheaper than China? ›
The average cost of living in China ($758) is 29% less expensive than in South Korea ($1062). China ranked 108th vs 53rd for South Korea in the list of the most expensive countries in the world.
Japan-made car sales recover in Korea on popular hybrid models, fast delivery. Sales of Japanese cars in South Korea rose 13.4 percent on year last year, suggesting easing in the boycott against Made-in-Japan after Tokyo's export curb on IT components amid conflict over wartime labor compensation issue.Do most Koreans own cars? ›
Passenger car ownership rate in South Korea from 2003 to 2021.
|Characteristic||Car ownership rate|
TOKYO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co (005380. KS) said on Tuesday it is returning to Japan 12 years after leaving because of poor sales, as growing demand for electric vehicles offers a fresh opening in a market dominated by Toyota Motor (7203.Who is the richest idol in K Pop? ›
Park Jin-Young, also known as Jin Young Park, J.Y. Park, or JYP, is the richest K pop idol in the world. He began his Kpop career in the 90s as part of the Park Jin Young and the New Generation trio. He found much greater success, though, as a solo act.What is China's most expensive car? ›
~$2 Million-$3.8 Million.
At the registration stage, the Korean Government levies the following three taxes: 1) registration tax (five percent of the retail price before VAT), 2) acquisition tax (2% of the retail price before VAT) and 3) subway bond (based on engine displacement).What cars do Korean police use? ›
Vehicles. Police cars used by the National Police Agency include the semi-mid-size Hyundai Elantra, mid-size Hyundai Sonata and SsangYong Korando C SUV. On average, there are two or three police cars in each police district, though there can be up to seven in busy areas.What cars do Korean police drive? ›
Needless to say, the South Korean patrol cars are not your everyday Kia Rio->ke1322s or Hyundai Getz->ke2646s. By our tally, that's a Ferrari 360->ke385, a Porsche 911->ke282, and a Lamborghini Gallardo->ke375 all serving as patrol cars for South Korea's police department.Which is the No 1 luxury car? ›
The most popular luxury cars in india include Volvo XC90 (Rs. 93.90 Lakh), Lamborghini Aventador (Rs. 6.25 Crore) and Rolls Royce Phantom (Rs.Which car brand is No 1 in world? ›
Toyota Motor Corporation is the largest automaker of the world. It is a Japanese multinational firm having a global presence.
- Toyota Corolla Hybrid. Reliability: 93. ...
- Lexus GX. Reliability: 91. ...
- Mini Cooper. Reliability: 89. ...
- Toyota Prius. Reliability: 89. ...
- Mazda MX-5 Miata. Reliability: 85. ...
- Lincoln Corsair. ...
- Toyota Corolla. ...
- Subaru Crosstrek.
While Korean cars are attractive with their high-tech features and design, no one beats Japanese cars when it comes to safety. Many drivers find a lot of stability in Japanese cars. Oftentimes, you'll be able to enjoy the car for ten years with minimal repairs.What cars do Korean actors drive? ›
- G-Dragon's McLaren 650S. ...
- Exo's Chanyeol rides in a Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG. ...
- Jessica Jung owns a Maserati Quattroporte. ...
- Dok2's Rolls-Royce Wraith Luminary Edition. ...
- Jay Park Bentley Flying Spur. ...
- JYJ's Junsu and his Lamborghini Aventador. ...
- IU drives a Porsche Cayenne.
They differ from Japanese manufacturers in that they equip their vehicles with soft plastic that makes the seats more ergonomic and pleasant to sit on. In addition, many “extra” features, such as automated parking, cruise control, etc., are standard in modern Korean automobiles.Are Korean cars cheaper? ›
We've already mentioned that Korean cars are cheap compared to cars manufactured in other countries, but even at their affordable prices, they still manage to give customers more value for their money. Features that are typically reserved for high-end European cars can now be found in many affordable Korean vehicles.Are cars from Korea good? ›
As a matter of fact, Korean manufacturers make some of the safest vehicles on the road today. Features like Front Crash Prevention and LED Headlights have landed late model KIA vehicles, for example, on the IIHS "Top Safety Pick +" list for the past several years.Why are Korean cars so cheap? ›
Most of Kia's other models are built at plants in South Korea, where production is cheaper than in the U.S. Even though Kia only has one plant in the U.S., that's enough to make the automaker exempt from paying a tariff.Is German cars safer than Japanese? ›
How many of these stereotypes/myths are true? 1. German cars are safer than Japanese/Korean cars. Not true, not even close.Who owns a car in BTS? ›
BTS member Jin has a Porsche Panamera
Starting at $179,800, this luxury vehicle is a good buy for a popular band member. After that, the K-pop star was spotted in a sleek Lamborghini Aventador S.