Sales of foreign hybrid vehicles up 14% in first half

Sales of foreign hybrid cars in South Korea jumped 14 percent in the first six months of 2013 from a year earlier, data showed Monday.

Foreign carmakers sold 3,002 hybrid vehicles between January and June, compared with 2,632 hybrid units in the same period in 2012, according to the data compiled by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

The market share of foreign hybrids stood at 20 percent of a total of 15,009 hybrids sold in South Korea in the first half of this year, according to separate data released by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade.


The development suggested that foreign carmakers made successful inroads into the local hybrid vehicle market, considering that foreign carmakers account for about 10 percent of South Korea‘s car market.

The increased sales of hybrids come as South Korea is seeking to encourage ordinary citizens to buy electric cars by offering subsidies worth up to 23 million won ($21,000).

About 90 electric cars were sold in the first six months, though their sales are expected to go up in coming months as carmakers prepare to roll out new zero-emission cars.

GM Korea Co., the local unit of General Motors Co., has said the electric version of the compact Chevrolet Spark is scheduled to hit local showrooms in October.

Renault Samsung Motors Co., the South Korean unit of French automaker Renault S.A., also said it plans to introduce its electric car in October.

Kia Motors Corp., South Korea’s second-largest carmaker, has said it plans to roll out the electric version of its Soul box car in the first half of next year, in addition to its existing electric car, the Ray.

Germany‘s BMW plans to introduce the i3 electric car in South Korea next May, according to the carmaker’s local distributor.

As of June, a total of 1,146 electric cars were used mostly by government agencies and public corporations across the country, according to the environment ministry.

South Korea has installed 1,165 charging stations for electric cars across the country, including 110 quick charge stations, it said.

The competition for environmentally friendly vehicles comes as South Korea is moving to further toughen minimum fuel efficiency standards for automobiles.

South Korea said in July that it plans to raise the minimum fuel efficiency requirement of passenger cars to 20 kilometers per liter (km/l) starting in 2020.

Currently, the country has no minimum requirements, though it is set to begin enforcing a 17 km/l requirement from 2015.

Automakers that fail to meet the minimum requirement can be subject to a fine, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The United States is moving to only allow sales of vehicles that meet the minimum fuel efficiency of 56.2 miles per gallon, or 23.9 km/l, from 2025, with Japan also set to introduce a 20.3 km/l requirement from 2020, according to the ministry. (Yonhap News)

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