SEOUL, Sept. 30 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea needs to make more efforts to foster the electric automobile industry, a state-run think tank said Sunday, claiming local companies have been losing ground in the important Chinese market.
The Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET) said South Korean companies need to beef up their capabilities in electric and self-driving vehicles in order to maintain or expand shares in China.
The Chinese government currently seeks to have electric cars account for 20 percent of combined automobile sales by 2025, while having self-driving models account for 10 percent by 2030.
Citing the data compiled by the European Commission, the KIET said China accounted for 34 of the top 162 firms in terms of investment in the automobile industry in 2017. Among South Korean companies, 12 made the list.
China invested a combined 5.4 billion euro (US$6.2 billion), hovering above South Korea’s 4 billion euro, the figure showed.
The KIET added that South Korean firms’ presence in China weakened recently.
Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. sold 816,000 units of automobiles in China last year, down from 1.13 million tallied in 2016. The two brands accounted for 4.6 percent of the market over the January-July period this year.
China’s home brands took up 42 percent, while German carmakers accounted for 20.3 percent. U.S. brands held 10.9 percent.
“Chinese consumers prefer automobiles powered by new energy sources and hold the world’s highest interest in self-driving cars,” the report said.
“In order to maintain and expand the presence in the Chinese market, local carmakers need to better assess consumer preference and bolster capabilities in the electric and self-driving car industries.”