Domestic SUV sales up 12.7 percent last yearThe number of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) sold in South Korea in 2018 shot up 12.7 percent on year - growing faster than any other type of automobile - to hit a record-high level, data showed Sunday.
According to the data based on figures from the five Korean car manufacturers, the number of SUVs sold in the country came to 519,883 in 2018, rising sharply from the 461,385 posted a year earlier.
While the five players sold over 1.29 million units of passenger vehicles within the country in 2018, up 0.1 percent on year, SUVs accounted for 40 percent of those sales.
The demand for SUVs has been increasing over recent years. The five automakers sold 133,000 SUVs here in 2000, with the figure gradually increasing to surpass the 500,000 mark for the first time in 2018.
By carmaker, No. 1 player Hyundai Motor sold 204,693 units, followed by sister firm Kia Motors with 153,932 units. SsangYong Motor and Renault Samsung Motors posted sales of 106,202 and 39,366 units, respectively.
GM Korea, the Korean unit of General Motors, followed with 15,690 units.
By model, Hyundai’s all-new Santa Fe released in March was the most popular, accounting for 20.6 percent of the sales at 107,202 units. Kia’s Sorento followed with 67,200 units and Hyundai’s Kona sold 50,468 units.
SsangYong Motor’s compact SUV Tivoli came in fourth, selling 43,897 units though its sales faltered by 20.6 percent on year.
Hyundai’s midsize SUV Tucson trailed in fifth place, selling 42,623 units.
Industry watchers said sales of SUVs in the country are expected to increase on year in 2019 as well, with various SUV models rolling out in the Korean market.
Hyundai Motor’s latest SUV launch has already received high public interest. Sales of Hyundai’s large Palisade SUV reached 1,908 units in the 20 days since its launch.
Koreans’ preference for SUVs also showed in the list of best-selling import cars last year. Ford’s Explorer ranked sixth on the list. Sales of the large SUV increased 14.7 percent year-on-year, from 6,021 units sold in 2017 to 6,909 units sold last year.
BY KIM JEE-HEE, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]