SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Korea Bizwire) – Korea set a new annual record in 2016 for eco-friendly vehicle sales.
According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, total sales of environmentally-friendly vehicles – both domestic and imported – amounted to 68,761 units, which was more than double the number for 2015, at 31,743.
Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors accounted for 74.3 percent or 51,052 of all the vehicles sold, with Kia’s sales (25,607) surpassing those of Hyundai (25,445) for the first time in the eco-friendly sector. Kia’s success was driven by the popularity of its Niro SUV, of which 18,710 units were sold, the associations said.
Kia and Hyundai were followed by imported vehicles (16,716), Renault Samsung Motors (637), and GM Korea (356).
In terms of vehicle type, hybrid vehicles, including PHEVs, took up 91.4 percent of all sales, followed by EVs and FCEVs.
The popularity of eco-friendly vehicles is rapidly gaining traction in Korea.
A total of 218,167 eco-friendly cars have been sold since 2005. It took nine years to reach the 100,000-mark in 2014, but only two more to reach 200,000, and industry watchers are hopeful that the country will soon see annual sales of 100,000 ‘green’ vehicles or more.
Meanwhile, the fierce battle of eco-friendly vehicles is expected to continue this year, with a handful of local and overseas models looking to launch in 2017.
Kia and Hyundai are expecting to introduce plug-in hybrid models for the Niro and Ioniq, respectively, while GM Korea will be launching its Chevrolet Bolt EV in the first half of the year, and Renault Samsung, the Twizy, an electric city car. American EV maker Tesla is also likely to begin its Korean operations sometime in 2017.
“We saw tremendous growth in the eco-friendly car sector last year from factors including the introduction of highly competitive car models, government policies, and improved consumer awareness,” said an industry watcher. “Given the greater variety of car models expected to be released this year, the market for eco-friendly vehicles will soon see mainstream demand in Korea.”
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)