중앙데일리

Outdoorsy types opting for cargo space of 5-seat SUVs

Camping fad prompts push for more room
연비 높고 캠핑에 적합… SUV 시장서 5인승이 뜬다

Sept 29,2012
The new 5-seat Santa Fe from Hyundai Motor has removed the last row of seats its previous 7-seat model had, thus offering more cargo space. The body size of the 5-seat and the 7-seat car is the same. But the 5-seat SUV is 500,000 won (449 dollar) cheaper. Provided by the company

A 37-year-old office worker named Chang Sang-min bought Hyundai Motor’s new 5-seat Santa Fe in July. Chang enjoys going camping at least twice a month with his wife and 5-year-old son, the main reason why he drives a sport utility vehicle (SUV) instead of a sedan.

Most in his consumer category drive the 7-seat SUV, but for Chang, with only three in his family, seven seats were overkill.

“I chose the 5-seater Santa Fe over the 7-seater as both cars are the same size, but the fewer seats it has, the more I can carry in the car,” said Chang. “Also, the price is 500,000 won [$449] cheaper.”

Where the 7-seat SUV was once the mainstream choice, more people are now choosing the 5-seat SUV, which lacks the last row of seats the 7-seat model has and offers more cargo space.

Not only camping enthusiasts, but mothers picking up their kids from schools and hagwon, or private academies, and take their children to soccer and various other activities also prefer the cheaper SUV with slightly higher fuel efficiency.

To haul school bags, textbooks and sports equipment, they are choosing the option with more cargo room.

According to Hyundai Motors, sales of the 5-seat Santa Fe accounted for 37.8 percent of total Santa Fe sales, up almost fourfold from 9.8 percent in May. Santa Fe originally did not have a 5-seater model, but as demand grew it launched the new 5-seater model in May.

“In North America, where people are used to outdoor activities, the 5-seater Santa Fe is the standard model,” said an official from Hyundai Motors.

“We have noticed that Koreans’ lifestyles are becoming more like North Americans, such as the steadily increasing number of camping lovers. Thus, we focused on expanding the SUV line-up by including the new 5-seater model.”

With Kia Motor’s new Sorento SUV, released in July, sales of the 5-seater account for 33 percent of the total sales of the SUV. GM Korea has also recently added a 5-seater model to its Captiva SUV. Ssangyong Motors released Korando Sports in January of this year, highlighting that the model has been optimized for leisure activities, such as camping.

Korando Sports recorded cumulative sales of 1,447 units by the end of last month with average monthly sales of more than 1,800 units since its launch, 84 percent more than the sales of its Actyon model in the same period.

“According to a result of our own investigation, 21 percent of consumers responded that the Actyon Sports is similar to a truck. We succeeded in transforming the image of Korando Sports to an SUV. Three percent fewer respondents answered that they thought the Korando Sports was an SUV,” said Cha Ki-woong, deputy head of department at Ssangyong Motors. Renault Samsung’s QM5 features a “clamshell tailgate,” two-way trunk doors which can also be used as a table when opened.

Car companies are planning marketing strategies in connection with camping companies ahead of the camping season in the fall.

Coleman, the camping equipment company, and Kia Motors will hold an event renting out tents and outdoor cooking tools free of charge.

By Lee Soo-ki [kjy@joongang.co.kr]



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