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SUV, minivan sales jump in Q1: data

Sales of SUVs and minivans surged greatly in South Korea during the first quarter of 2015 from a year earlier amid the continued popularity of leisure-oriented cars, data showed Sunday.

A total of 108,904 of the units were sold during the January-March period, up 22.1 percent from what was sold a year earlier, according to sales data of five carmakers in South Korea.

As many as 279,844 commercial vehicles were sold over the cited period, and SUV and minivan sales accounted for 38.9 percent, the highest number since their combined share reached 40 percent in 2004, the data showed.

Sales of minivans during the three-month period came to 20,619 units, jumping 76.4 percent compared with the year before, while that of SUVs also shot up 13.9 percent on-year to 88,285 units.

Industry watchers attributed the increase to the popularity of local carmakers' recently launched models.

The country's No. 2 automaker, Kia Motor Corp., saw the sales of its new edition of the Sorento crossover SUV reach 18,987 units in the first three months of this year, which is nearly 3.5 times the number of the model's previous version sold in the same period last year.

"With the weather getting warmer, there have been more cases of buyers seeking out minivans and SUVs to go on camping trips and other outings for the spring," an industry official said. "There are also more options for customers as carmakers diversify their lineups of such models."

In contrast, sales of cars in most other segments did poorly.

Sales of small and compact cars fell 12.2 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively, over the cited period, and that of large vehicles also slipped 1 percent on-year.

Only mid-sized cars saw an on-year increase in sales, moving up 16.4 percent to 43,544 units in the first quarter. (Yonhap)