SEOUL, April 28 (Korea Bizwire) – Domestic sales of hybrid vehicles in South Korea increased in the first quarter from a year earlier despite unfavorable market conditions caused by the prolonged weakness in energy prices, industry data showed Thursday.
Carmakers operating factories in South Korea sold a combined 8,117 hybrid electric vehicles here during the January-March period, up 10.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the data provided by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Hyundai Motor Co. armed with relatively diverse hybrid lineups, including the Ioniq, led by selling 6,398 vehicles, followed by Kia Motors Corp. with its quarterly sales of 1,711 units. GM Korea Co., the local unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors Co. came next with sales of a mere 8 units.
The growth came despite the protracted low crude oil prices, which could ellipse the fuel efficiency merits of hybrid cars, one of their main selling points over combustion engine vehicles.
Hybrid car sales in South Korea peaked at 30,688 units in 2012 before falling to 22,257 units in 2013. But sales picked up in 2014 and 2015, when they expanded 25.5 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.
This year, sales dropped again and remained down until February, but Hyundai Motor’s Ioniq helped turn them around.
Launched in January, the Ioniq, Hyundai Motor’s first hybrid model based on its own production platform, saw its sales reach 3,054 units during the first quarter, the data showed.
Kia Motors’ Niro hybrid SUV launched in mid-March has also been propping up green car sales here. Since its official debut, more than 4,000 units of the Niro have been sold, according to company data.