Compact car sales reach new high

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Compact car sales reach new high

Sales of small cars in Korea reached a record monthly-high in August mainly due to high fuel prices and overall economic uncertainty, industry sources said yesterday.

Sales of vehicles categorized as compact cars or smaller reached 38,698 units last month, accounting for 53.5 percent of the total vehicles sold here, according to the sources.

This is the highest percentage achieved by the small-car segment this year, surpassing the 52.9 percent tallied in January when Hyundai Motor Co., the country’s largest automaker, launched its new Accent, and its sister company Kia Motors Corp. released the Morning city car.

Sales of small-sized cars, which accounted for an average of 50.4 percent of total cars sold in 2010, dipped below 50 percent from March due partly to a rise in consumer demand for larger vehicles such as Hyundai’s new Grandeur. The number rebounded to 52.3 percent in July.

“The downgrading of the U.S. credit rating [in early August] raised consumer concern about the general state of the global economy, causing people to consider smaller, more economical cars,” said one market watcher.

“High oil prices further affected the way people picked cars.”

Despite a slight decrease in sales in the second quarter, just over half of new car owners in the country, or 50.9 percent, have opted for smaller cars so far this year.

This matches the level reached in 2009, when the country was struggling to cope with the financial crisis triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.


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