The Asian automotive market is definitely rich in product, with some Korean manufacturers pushing out incredible designs and the most advanced technology out there.
While the Korean market doesn’t have many automotive companies, seven companies sell their cars around the world.
The table below lists the top Korean car brands in 2022:
|Company||Headquarters||Vehicle Types||Famous Models|
|Hyundai||Seoul, South Korea||SUVs, compact cars, hybrid and electric cars||Tucson, Santa Fe, i30, i10|
|Kia Motors||Seoul, South Korea||SUVs, sedans||Sportage, Seltos|
|Genesis||Seoul, South Korea||Luxury sedans and SUVs, hybrid cars||G80, G90, G70|
|GM Korea||Incheon, South Korea||SUVs, luxury cars, compact cars||Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac Escalade, Buick Encore|
|Ioniq||Seoul, South Korea||Electric and hybrid cars||Ioniq 5, Ioniq 6, Ioniq 7|
|Renault Samsung Motors||Busan, South Korea||SUVs and compact cars||SM6, QM6, XM3|
|Ssangyong Motor||Pyeongtaek-si, South Korea||SUVs, crossover SUVs, electric cars||Rexton, Tivoli, XLV|
The most popular car brand in South Korea, Hyundai was founded in 1967 and today, it is the largest automotive manufacturer in its country.
Some of their more famous models are Hyundai Tucson (which is also their best-selling vehicle), Santa Fe, and Casper, which has arrived on the market in 2021.
Even though Hyundai is most popular for their SUVs, the smaller and more compact i30 and i10 models, are also on their top 10 best selling cars list.
It’s important to point out that Hyundai is also making large strides in the hybrid, electric, and hydrogen vehicle industry.
They have, after all, developed their first fully electric car back in 1991, and they’ve been working on more impressive models like the Sonata Hybrid and the Nexo (a hydrogen-powered car) ever since.
2. Kia Motors
Kia is Hyundai’s biggest competitor, and the two manufacturers have been pushing one another to new limits for over fifty years. Selling millions of cars on a yearly basis, Kia is also one of top Korean car manufacturers.
Their production facility in West Point, Georgia, alone has built over three million cars as of September 2019. This doesn’t include other production lines found in other countries and continents.
Kia’s most famous model is the Kia Sportage, followed closely by the Seltos – another compact SUV model. Models Rio, Forte (also known as Cerato), Sorento and Optima are all being sold in numbers greater than 200,000 a year!
As of 2006, Kia has been trying very hard to create a lasting impression on the buyer. The company invested heavily into the design team, as they want buyers to be able to recognize a Kia at first sight – a very similar concept to the Japanese Mazda.
This brand is actually a subsidiary of Hyundai, but they’ve headed in a completely different direction in regards to design and engineering.
They’re known as popular luxury cars in Korea, and they’ve been independent on the market since 2015.
Genesis was conceived by Hyundai in 2003, but they’ve only been working independently since 2015. In that time, they’ve committed to designing high-quality, luxury cars for the Korean market, while also developing luxury electric vehicles.
Between 2015 and 2018, Genesis sold over 200,000 vehicles – with most of those being models G80, G90 and G70. Their designs are an amalgam of a classic sedan and a SUV, insisting on electric vehicles more and more.
4. GM Korea (Daewoo Motors)
The third-largest car manufacturer in South Korea, GM Korea acquired the well-known Daewoo Motor and integrated it into their company in 2011. GM Korea is currently only exporting cars to the Asian and North American market.
Their most popular models are the Buick Encore, 9th generation Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Camaro, and Cadillac Escalade.
Locally made Chevrolet Trailblazer is one of the best Korean SUVs, with over 20,000 cars sold annually in South Korea.
Website: GM Korea
Just like Genesis, Ioniq is a division of Hyundai with headquarters in Seoul, South Korea’s capital.
This brand distinguishes itself from Hyundai and Genesis by focusing solely on electric vehicles, making them the biggest South Korean electric car manufacturer and one of the biggest in Asia.
They’re also the youngest South Korean car brand, as they were founded in 2020.
The only model currently on the market is the Ioniq 5, with Ioniq 6 and Ioniq 7 set to hit the streets in 2022 and 2024, respectively.
Their goal is to help Hyundai reach 1,000,000 electric vehicles sold in a year by 2025, while Ioniq should account for more than half of those sales.
6. Renault Samsung Motors
Did you know that Samsung used to design and manufacture cars back in the day, not just phones and gadgets?
Established in 1994, Samsung Motors became a division of Renault six years later, donning the new name – Renault Samsung Motors.
They currently only have three models under their name – SM6, QM6 and XM3 (all based on Renault’s European designs). Everywhere outside South Korea, their cars are rebadged and sold simply as Renaults.
Unfortunately, their performance in the Korean market isn’t that good either, as they’re unable to compete with Hyundai, Kia and GM Motors. Making them one of the lowest-selling car brands in Korea.
Website: Renault Samsung Motors
7. Ssangyong Motor
The final entry on our list, Ssangyong Motor, was established in 1954 and it focuses mainly on SUVs, crossover SUVs, and electric cars. Their most current models are the Rexton, Tivoli, XLV, Korando, and Musso.
Ssangyong is currently working on its first electric car, the U100, which should be ready for the market in 2023.
Their sales numbers, while incomparable with the big shots in the Korean market, are still impressive with over 140,000 sales annually, making them one of the most popular Korean car brands.
Website: Ssangyong Motor