Skip to content
  • KOSPI 2795.41 -38.88 -1.37%
  • KOSDAQ 918.91 -23.94 -2.54%
  • KOSPI200 371.58 -4.50 -1.20%
  • USD/KRW 1193.6 3.20 0.27%
  • JPY100/KRW 1,049.36 5.20 0.50%
  • EUR/KRW 1,353.54 6.78 0.50%
  • CNH/KRW 188.04 0.39 0.21%
View Market Snapshot

Hyundai Motor beats Honda in US for the first time in its 35 years there

Hyundai, Kia US sales up 21.6% on-year to sell 1.49 mn units in 2021, as chip shortage, EV demand rattle global auto industry

By Jan 06, 2022 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai's all-electric SUV IONIQ 5
Hyundai's all-electric SUV IONIQ 5

South Korea’s top automaker Hyundai Motor Group beat Japanese rival Honda Motor Co. in the US last year, for the first time in its 35 years of business there, to become the fifth-largest player in the world’s No. 2 car market.

General Motors Co. gave up the throne at home to Toyota Motor Corp. for the first time in 90 years, a sign that the automotive chip shortage, surge in demand for eco-friendly models and decline in internal combustion engine vehicles has rattled the global automobile industry.


Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp., the two carmakers of South Korea’s No. 2 conglomerate, sold a record 1.49 million units together in the US in 2021, up 21.6% from the previous year, according to Automotive News. Their combined market share was estimated to rise to a double-digit. Hyundai sold 787,702 vehicles and Kia supplied 701,416 units, both record highs.

Meanwhile, Honda’s US sales grew 8.9% to 1.47 million units in 2021.

When Hyundai entered the US market by exporting its subcompact Excel in 1986, the South Korean carmaker was booed as Honda’s "copycat," as its logo and the pronunciation of its brand were similar to the Japanese maker’s.
The Hyundai Excel
The Hyundai Excel

Toyota sold 2.33 million cars and trucks last year, up 10.4%, to take down GM from its throne as the No. 1 automaker in the US. GM lost the position for the first time since 1931 when it beat Ford Motor Co. to lead America’s automobile market. Toyota has become the first foreign company to achieve the top place in the US.


Hyundai, Kia and Toyota reaped the rewards of successful supply chain management to cope with the automotive chip shortage that haunted the global auto industry. Most US makers such as GM and Ford, which suspended production in the first half of 2020 due to falling demand due to COVID-19, cut chip orders last year on expectations that demand would remain weak.

But those Asian manufacturers kept operating factories that helped meet surging demand with "revenge shopping," a post-lockdown rush to purchase luxury or durable goods. Hyundai and Kia diversified parts suppliers after suffering from a wiring harness shortage in 2020 that disrupted production.

Strong demand for eco-friendly cars such as electric vehicles helped Hyundai and Kia with their combined sales of EVs, hybrid models and fuel cell vehicles up 196.5% to 100,886 units in the first 11 months of 2021.

Global sales of EVs soared 62.1% to 9.6 million units last year, even as the automotive chip shortage slashed overall automobile production by 10 million units, about 12% of the world’s demand of 84.2 million vehicles.

Significant improvement in Hyundai and Kia’s product quality also attracted more customers. Hyundai’s premium car brand Genesis successfully settled down in the US market with record sales last year.


GM and Ford took fighting measures to regain their market shares through EVs.

Ford transformed the F-150 pickup truck, America’s bestselling vehicle, into an EV. Ford, which unveiled the all-electric F-150 Lightning last year, received about 200,000 nonbinding reservations for the truck before it stopped taking the preorders last month.
Hyundai Motor beats Honda in US for the first time in its 35 years there

Earlier this week, it announced a plan to nearly double the annual capacity of the F-150 Lightning.

GM followed the suit. GM CEO Mary Barra showcased the electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck to be released in 2023 on Jan. 5 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 in Las Vegas.


Global major tech companies joined the competition in the EV market. Sony Group is slated to set up an EV subsidiary – Sony Mobility Inc.

Apple Inc. is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to release a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, Reuters reported last month.

In the autonomous vehicle sector, tech giants such as Google and Intel Corp. are already taking the lead with Google’s Waymo LLC Intel’s Mobileye, industry sources analyzed.

But the global automobile industry will not be dominated by a few eternal winners in the unlimited competition, analysts said.

Write to Il-Gue Kim, Jae-Yeon Ko and Yeong-Hyo Jeong at

Jongwoo Cheon edited this article.
Comment 0