Hyundai is under attack from its South Korean sibling Kia. Traditionally a distant rival in Australia, Kia has overtaken Hyundai in year-to-date sales for the first four months of this year.
After two decades as a distant relative rather than a sibling, Kia has dramatically closed the gap to Hyundai in Australia.
Ten years ago, Kia Australia’s annual sales tally amounted to about one-third of Hyundai Australia’s annual sales tally.
Today, as the boss of Kia Australia Damien Meredith – a former high-ranking Hyundai executive – celebrates eight years in the top job, the two brands are neck-and-neck.
Kia has outsold Hyundai in Australia for three of the first four months of this year.
Notching up another milestone, Kia has led Hyundai in the year-to-date tally at the end of every month so far in 2021.
It is the first time Kia Australia has had such a sustained period of leadership ahead of Hyundai at the start of a year.
The close battle means buyers are the big winners as the squabbling siblings compete for customers across the same vehicle categories.
Official new-car sales figures show Kia outsold Hyundai in Australia in January, February and March this year – and has maintained its lead in the accumulated year-to-date tally compiled at the end of each month.
Historical data shows Kia sales have accelerated as Hyundai sales have hit the brakes over the past eight years.
Industry observers believe at least part of Kia’s sales success has come at the expense of Hyundai.
Kia and Hyundai cars share jointly-developed vehicles, engines, and technology – however the cars have unique styling and are made in separate factories.
Both brands have struggled with stock shortages over the past two years due to the pandemic, as has the rest of the automotive industry.
However, a clear pattern is emerging. If Kia continues to grow at its current rate, and Hyundai sales continue to decline, Kia could outsell Hyundai by the end of this year.
Kia outsold Hyundai in Australia for the first time ever in March 2020.
In 2021, Kia outsold Hyundai in Australia for four months in a row – May through July inclusive.
The May 2021 result saw Kia overtake Ford for the first time ever, after finishing third in the monthly sales race for the second time, and beating Hyundai for the third time in its history.
At the end of March 2022, just 159 sales separated Kia and Hyundai in the year-to-date tally – the closest gap in their history in Australia.
Kia Australia has never before outsold Hyundai for such a sustained period at the start of a calendar year.
Kia currently leads Hyundai by 787 sales in the four months to the end of April (23,632 versus 22,845).
Kia Australia has also posted sales gains every month this year compared to last year (up 3.3 per cent year-to-date in a market that is down by 3.5 per cent).
By comparison, Hyundai Australia has posted sales declines every month this year compared to last year.
The Hyundai versus Kia story so far:
Kia Australia sales
23,632 (2022 YTD to the end of April)
Hyundai Australia sales
22,845 (2022 YTD to the end of April)
Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.