South Korea’s exports of second-hand cars jumped 43 percent in the first quarter this year from a year ago, mainly heading to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa, as local dealers benefitted from the weaker Korean won, data showed Sunday.
According to Korea International Trade Association and multiple industry sources from the automobile industry on Sunday, Korea shipped 107,321 units of used cars in the first quarter ended March, up 42.9 percent from the same period a year ago. It is record-high shipments for the first quarter, and the second-highest quarterly shipments since the second quarter of 2012 when 107,573 units of second-hand cars were exported.
Of the total, passenger cars accounted for 86,792 units while commercial cars including trucks and vans 20,529 units.
Major export markets in the first quarter were the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
By country, exports of used cars to Libya accounted for more than half of total exports with 59,000 units, more than doubling from 22,000 units in the first quarter of last year. Despite political unrest in the North African country due to civil war, demand for used cars from Korea remained strong.
Shipments to Cambodia, Ghana, Chile, and Jordan were also high with shipments of more than 4,000 used cars in respective countries. About 70 percent of total shipments were headed to the five biigest markets.
Industry insiders expect that this year’s exports of used cars would surpass 400,000 units given that quarterly shipments have exceeded 100,000 units for two quarters in a row since the fourth quarter of last year. Used car exports peaked 373,000 units in heyday 2012.
The upsurge in Korea’s exports of used cars come on the weakening Korean won against the U.S. dollar, making local cars more affordable in overseas markets. The won averaged 1,125 won per U.S. dollar in the January-March period, sliding from 1,072 won per dollar in the same period a year ago.
Some industry watchers, however, advised that Korea should diversify its export destinations as excessive reliance on a particular country poses risks. They noted that overall shipment value in the first quarter increased only marginally after used car exports to Russia where unit cost is higher than in other markets fell during the period.
Meanwhile, Korean carmakers shipped a total 582,075 units of new cars in the first quarter ended March, up 1.4 percent from the same period of last year.
By Lee Jong-hyuk and Lee Eun-joo
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