Automakers bet on SUVs in Korea amid strong demand

By a2017001
  • Published : May 19, 2017 - 16:39
  • Updated : May 19, 2017 - 16:39

Carmakers are betting on sport-utility vehicles in the South Korean market amid strong consumer demand, industry insiders said Friday.

In the next two to three years, local and foreign carmakers have plans to introduce a series of premium SUVs to reflect the popularity of recreational vehicles, according to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association. 

Genesis' GV80 concept car unveiled at New York Motor Show last month (Yonhap)

"An increasing number of Korean customers opt to buy recreational vehicles, including minivans and small pickups, for use on camping trips and traveling. Carmakers are planning to add more SUVs to their lineups to take advantage of such trends and low oil prices," a KAMA official said.

Hyundai Motor Co., which is struggling due to its lack of competitive SUV models in the U.S. market, aims to introduce the "GV80," the first SUV model under the carmaker's independent luxury Genesis brand, in 2019, a company spokesman said.

In the New York Motor Show held last month, the maker of the Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs unveiled the GV80 plug-in hybrid electric concept car. The kind of powertrain for the new SUV will be decided later, the source said.

Imported carmakers are scheduled to gradually launch premium SUV models for the next two to three years. German carmakers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz lead others in the race for a bigger share in the emerging Korean SUV market.

BMW Korea plans to launch the all-new X3 SUV later this year, the new X-2 compact SUV next year and the new X7 flagship SUV in 2020. Mercedes-Benz plans to launch the New GLC 350e 4MATIC SUV later this year, according to the companies. 

In the January-March period, the country's five carmakers -- Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. -- sold a combined 120,676 SUVs, or 39 percent of all passenger car sales of 306,687 units in the first quarter, KAMA said.

The sales data released by KAMA didn't include the sales figures of imported SUVs.

During the same period, recreational vehicles, including minivans and small pickups, accounted for 30 percent of all imported cars that reached 54,966 units in the three-month period, KAIDA said. (Yonhap)