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Korea's auto exports hit all-time highs in February 2023-03-21

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on March 20 that Korea’s automobile industry in February achieved double digit growth in production, domestic sales and exports year-on-year.

The monthly export value for February hit an all-time high of USD 5.6 billion. Car parts also rose 13.3 percent in export value to $2.0 billion as shipments increased to North America and the EU. Automobiles and car parts combined ($7.6 billion) now make up the largest chunk of Korea’s exports, having exceeded shipments of semiconductors ($6.0 billion) and petroleum products ($4.7 billion).

The increase in automobile exports is attributable to rising demand for domestic brands, owing to their growing commercial value, and for eco-friendly cars, which are highest in unit price.

Improved semiconductor supply conditions helped increase production by 30.2 percent to approximately 344,000 units. Hyundai Motor (up 27.8 percent), Kia (up 38.4 percent), GM Korea (up 19.0 percent), SsangYong Motor (up 31.4 percent) and Renault Korea Motors (up 3.7 percent) all advanced in output.

Domestic sales of automobiles expanded 19.6 percent to 147,000 units as production rose on the backs of standby demand. Domestic models gained 21.5 percent to 125,000 units in sales, thanks to surging demand for full-size sedans, SUVs and eco-friendly cars.

BMW, Audi, Lexus and other foreign brands experienced a 9.9 percent boost in domestic sales to roughly 22,000 units, driven by hybrid models.

Outbound shipments of Korean automobiles surged 34.8 percent to 223,000 units, and export value jumped 47.1 percent to $5.6 billion. Hyundai Motor, Kia, GM Korea and SsangYong Motor all posted double-digit growth and surpassed the previous highest record set in May 2019.

Domestic sales of eco-friendly cars surged 32.1 percent to 45,000 units, and outbound shipments attained historic highs in both units (up 61.6 percent to 63,000 units) and value (up 83.4 percent to $2.0 billion).

Exports of all types of electric vehicles flourished, with those of HEVs growing 48.8 percent to 26,033 units, electric vehicles (EVs) growing 76.6 percent to 30,843 units, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) growing 51.0 percent to 5,945 units and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) skyrocketing 1,900.0 percent to 40 units.

The export value of eco-friendly vehicles has continued to grow for six consecutive months as of August 2022, surpassing the $2 billion thresholds for the first time and occupying 36.1 percent of total automobile exports.

Export value of HEVs and PHEVs grew 54.2 percent and 78.9 percent to $0.6 billion and $0.2 billion, respectively. EVs and FCEVs amounted to $1.2 billion in total (up 83.4 percent).

By region, the export value of automobiles increased for all destinations. Exports to the U.S. soared 65.7 percent to $2.7 billion. Exports to the EU climbed 35.3 percent to $0.9 billion. Those to the Middle East (up 47.8 percent to $0.5 billion), Asia (up 81.2 percent to $0.5 billion), Oceania (up 10.8 percent to $0.3 billion) and Latin America (up 46.4 percent to $0.2 billion) likewise increased by double digits.