SEOUL, May 30 (Korea Bizwire) – Sales of hybrid cars have fast risen in South Korea this year as the popularity of diesel vehicles is losing its spark due to the loss of consumer trust and rising concerns over air pollution, data showed Monday.
Korean automakers sold a combined 14,173 hybrid cars in the first four months of the year, up 42.4 percent from a year ago, the Korea Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (KAMA) said.
A hybrid vehicle uses two or more distinct types of power, such as an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.
Hybrid models of Hyundai Motor Co.’s Sonata and Grandeur sedans, as well as Kia Motors Corp.’ K5 and K7 sedans, have shown a brisk performance this year, following robust sales last year.
The new fleet of Hyundai’s Ioniq hybrid and Kia’s SUV Niro, both released this year, also boosted sales of the fuel-efficient cars.
Hyundai, the nation’s top automaker, sold 3,809 Ioniq hybrid models from its launch in mid-January to April. Its sister company Kia sold 2,444 Niros in the month after its release in late March.
Sales of hybrid cars have gained ground after German automaker Volkswagen’s emissions scandal last year hampered consumer credibility of diesel vehicles, accelerated by the government’s recent move to tighten regulations on diesel cars in light of worsening fine dust problems.
Buoyed by the latest trend, industry officials expect the annual hybrid car sales to surpass the record sales of 30,688 set in 2012.
“The fall in consumer trust in diesel vehicles and the launch of competitive eco-friendly cars will shift attention toward eco-friendly cars this year,” a company official said.