The best-selling vehicle in Korea is a pickup truck.
In the first five months of 2016 the Hyundai Porter 1-ton pickup knocked Hyundai’s Avante out of the No.1 spot.
The Avante, (called the Elantra in the U.S. and most export markets) registered sales of 39,779 units in Korea for the five months through May. The Porter (called the H100 in some export markets and carrying various badges in others) has recorded 44,696 deliveries, Hyundai says.
The Avante remains Korea’s most-popular passenger car, outselling the Hyundai Sonata by about 10,000 units so far this year.
Hyundai last year sold 99,743 Porter units globally. A spokesman declines to break down domestic vs. export sales.
This year, with deliveries averaging nearly 9,000 vehicles a month, domestic sales of the Porter appear on track to approach 100,000. That could make it the Korean home market’s best-selling light vehicle of 2016. Export sales to some 100 other countries would pad that statistic.
The Porter is assembled at Hyundai’s complex in Ulsan, Korea, not at the automaker’s commercial-vehicle center in Jeonju.
Hyundai does not offer an explanation for the Porter’s strong performance in Korea. Some pundits speculate it is because a poor economy and loss of jobs has led many entrepreneurs to go into the street-vending or delivery business, thus boosting demand for lightweight pickups.
Hyundai affiliate Kia, meanwhile, readily discusses its rival to the Porter, the Kia Bongo, which is called the K-Series in overseas markets. It is available in K2500, K2700, K3000 and K4000 models, depending on engine size and cab configuration.
The Porter appears to be outselling the Bongo in Korea so far this year. Bongo deliveries in the first four months of 2016 totaled 24,735 units, according to Kia.
The spokesman says Kia expects full-year global Bongo/K-Series sales to be down slightly from the 109,335 recorded in 2015, about 9.6% better than the Porter/H100’s 99,743.
The Bongo/K-Series sold 61,863 units in Korea and 47,472 units overseas. Kia sells K-Series pickups in about 100 countries but not in Australia, the U.S. or Western Europe.
The Bongo and K-Series are assembled at Kia’s plant in Gwangju, Korea.
While the Porter is Hyundai's best-selling light vehicle domestically, the Bongo ranks fifth among Kia models.
Both the Hyundai and Kia pickups sell in the $13,500-$19,000 range in the home market.