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Auto exports hit new high in first half

Exports of Korean cars reached a record high in the first half of the year, benefiting from the demand drop for Japanese vehicles along with improving consumer sentiment abroad, data said Monday.

A report by the Korea Customs Service said Asia’s fourth-largest economy exported $19.1 billion worth of cars in the January-June period, bagging 30.4 percent more revenue than a year earlier. In terms of the number of vehicles exported, the auto industry exported 1.5 million vehicles, up 15.9 percent from a year earlier.

The improvement is attributed to the demand drop for Japanese cars after the March earthquake, which was a plus for Korean carmakers as the demand for local products increased in the U.S., Europe, Russia and Brazil, the data said.

The customs agency expected the figure to jump higher as more foreign consumers recognize Korean cars competitive, value-for-money purchases.

“Although there are variables that we need to think about such as economic situations, exchange rates and oil prices, we expect that exports of vehicles will likely continue into the second half of this year,” a customs official said.

Locally manufactured cars bound for Europe increased 53.5 percent on-year. Exports to Russia and Brazil also jumped 71.4 percent and 31.5 percent each, the data said.

Hyundai’s overseas performance was better than its domestic figure for the first half. Domestic sales at the industry leader jumped 7.2 percent on year to 344,422 units in the January-June period, while its overseas sales increased 10.6 percent.

Its affiliate Kia Motors and Ssangyong Motor Co. were also particularly strong abroad, with Kia posting a 30.8 percent and Ssangyong a 65.3 percent increase in sales in the same period.

By Cynthia J. Kim (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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