Cars Koreans got weary of are still popular overseas

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Cars Koreans got weary of are still popular overseas

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GM Korea’s Gentra and Hyundai EF Sonata


Korean automakers are exporting lots of car models discontinued here in Korea.

Some are selling better than new models.

GM Korea’s Gentra, also known as Aveo overseas, was first sold in the local market in September 2005 but was discontinued in March 2011. But the nation’s third-largest automaker kept producing the compact vehicle because of its popularity overseas. It shipped 21,300 Aveos to the Middle East and North Africa in the first 10 months of this year.

“The model was a European-style car that highlighted a curvy design,” said Park Hae-ho from GM Korea’s communications division. “The design trend has moved on in Korea, but in the Middle East and North Africa, where European culture has a lot of influence, it still has the popularity of a new car.”

Hyundai Motor has a similar situation with the Verna, a compact sedan that was rolled out of local show windows two years ago.

In the first nine months of this year, the nation’s largest automaker sold 16,200 Vernas in Egypt. Last year, it sold 17,400 units.

Even though it is a compact vehicle with engine displacement of under 1,600 cubic centimeters, the car is popular with Egyptian taxi drivers, who find the interior roomy.

“The car was first released in 1999 under the motto of ‘First car for my family,’?” a Hyundai representative said. “We focused on a roomy interior, and that feature still sells overseas.”

In China, Hyundai is cruising with old models of Avantes and Sonatas.

The Avante XD, known as Elantra in China, sold 58,000 units in the first 10 months of this year. In September alone, the second generation of the compact car sold 3,457 units, more than eight times the sales of the Langdong, Hyundai’s China-exclusive model of the Avante, which was released this year.

Avante HD, the third-generation Avante that is called Elantra Yuedong in China, also sold 70,000 units in China through the January-October period. The Avante XD and HD were removed from the Korean auto market in 2006 and 2010, respectively.

EF Sonata, the fourth-generation of Hyundai’s popular midsized sedan, sold 15,200 units in the first 10 months of this year in China.

Hyundai said old models are popular because they are cheaper than new ones. For instance, the EF Sonata with a 2.0 GL automatic transmission costs about 134,800 yuan ($21,600), 30 percent lower than YF Sonata, the latest model.

Kia Motors, Hyundai’s sister company, is doing well in Southeast Asia with older models. In Malaysia, the nation’s second-largest automaker is seeing good sales of the Pregio, a minivan that was discontinued in Korea eight years ago.

The model first went to Malaysia in 2006, and in the last two years it has sold more than 500 units.

Ssangyong Motor, the nation’s smallest automaker, is still making its Actyon and Kyron SUVs, which it stopped selling in Korea last year after Euro 5 emission standards were adopted.

The Actyon and Kyron are popular in Russia and South America, where emission standards are looser.

Among the 58,967 vehicles that Ssangyong shipped abroad, the Acyton and Kyron accounted for 14,201 units.

“Four-wheel drive and strong body structure appeal to foreign customers since they give the impression of driving well in difficult road conditions,” a representative of Ssangyong said. “The exports of these two models is helping our overseas business a lot.”

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

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