The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on January 14 that exports and domestic sales of eco-friendly vehicles hit record highs in 2020.
For 2020, the number of domestic vehicles produced by Korea’s seven automakers moved down 11.2 percent to 3.5 million units. Output in the first half of the year was more harshly hit by a slowdown in sales and a difficulty in procuring major parts due to COVID-19. The domestic automobile manufacturers are Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea, Ssangyong Motor, Renault Samsung Motors, Zyle Daewoo Bus, and Tata Daewoo.
Automobile exports shrank 21.4 percent to 1.9 million units. Exports also fell more in the first half (down 33.9 percent) than in the second half (down 8.1 percent). Most car models showed declines, but the share of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) recorded 71.8 percent, leading high value-added exports in the automobile industry.
Green car exports totaled 276,000 units (up 6.8 percent), the highest in history. In particular, electric vehicles (EVs) jumped 60.1 percent to 121,825 units.
Meanwhile, domestic sales amounted to 1.9 million units, increasing 5.8 percent and recording the highest number in history. The rise in domestic sales was primarily due to the government’s policy to boost domestic consumption by lowering the special consumption tax, and the industry’s launch of new car models.
The share of domestic sales of eco-friendly vehicles recorded 12 percent, exceeding the 10 percent mark for the first time in history. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), EVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) all showed growth.
However, outbound shipment of auto parts contracted 17.2 percent to $18.7 billion.
For December 2020, automobile output decreased by 12.0 percent to 296,895 units. The decrease in December is attributable to the partial strike of unionized workers at Kia Motors and constructions at production lines for the preparation of new car launches.
Exports lost 14.6 percent year-on-year to 174,904 vehicles due to a slowdown in global demand amid COVID-19 resurgence. The export value, however, went down by a smaller percentage (down 4.3 percent) due to the expansion of high value-added SUVs and EVs. EVs, especially, showed growth for the 41st consecutive month and Niro EVs leaped 114.2 percent to 4,673 units.
By region, exports to Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Oceania, and Asia went up, while those to North America, the European Union, the Middle East, and Africa went down.
Domestic sales of automobiles dipped 6.0 percent to 163,980 units. Sales of locally produced cars fell 8.2 percent to 131,872 units, but those of imported cars rose 4.3 percent to 32,108 units, the highest in 2020.
Green cars sold within Korea jumped 62.0 percent to 25,691 units compared to the same period in 2019, recording growth for 11 straight months. Hybrid vehicles like Tucson and Sorento led the upward trend in domestic green car sales.
Shipments of auto parts improved 15.6 percent to $2.2 billion, thanks to strong finished car sales in the North American market.