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South Korea’s eco-friendly car exports expand

South Korea’s export of eco-friendly cars mainly involving compact sport utility vehicles such as Hyundai Motor’s Kona and Niro have expanded significantly, government data showed Sunday.

According to data compiled by the country’s Transport Ministry and Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, exports of eco-friendly vehicles including electric vehicles and hybrid cars increased 41.8 percent to 189,033 units from January to September, compared to a year ago. 

Kona Electric (Hyundai Motor Group)
Kona Electric (Hyundai Motor Group)

In September alone, the number jumped by 82.7 percent on-year to record export of 24,808 units of eco-friendly cars.

By type, the accumulated exports of hybrid vehicles hit 109,464 units this year as of September, inching up by 15.1 percent on-year, while the corresponding figure of EVs skyrocketed by 144.2 percent to 49,160 units.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles such as Hyundai Ioniq and K5, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle Nexo also saw their exports increase by 77.5 percent to 21,738 units and 364.2 percent to 571 units, respectively. 

SUVs accounted for almost 60 percent of the combined sales of eco-friendly cars, led by the popularity of small SUVs like Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro. Kona topped the list with 184,997 units as of September. 

Figures also showed that eco-friendly cars altogether accounted 14.5 percent of the total exports in September, up from last year’s 8 percent.

Meanwhile, domestic sales of eco-friendly cars came at 78,422 units as of September, up 21.5 percent on-year. Sales of hybrid cars and electric cars inched up by 18.6 percent to 51,421 units and 24,082 units, respectively. 

Currently, the country’s Environment Ministry offers up to 5 million won ($4,241) subsidy to 300 units of plug-in hybrid cars and 19 million won subsidy to 42,000 units of EVs, annually. For hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, up to 36 million won is offered up to 4,000 units. 

By Kim Da-sol (