Korea’s auto output, domestics sales fall, exports value rise in double digits in 2021

2022.01.18 15:16:19

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South Korea’s automobile output and domestic sales contracted last year against a year ago amid protracted Covid-19 situation and global chip shortages, although exports expanded in double digits in terms of value, led by green vehicles.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Tuesday, automobile output from Korea in 2021 was estimated at 3.46 million units, down 1.3 percent from a year earlier.

The country’s output last year was the fifth largest in the world as of November, unchanged for two consecutive years. China produced the largest, followed by the U.S., Japan and India.

Auto sales in Korea dipped 8.5 percent on year to total 1.73 million units. Domestic car sales declined 10.4 percent to 1,429,000 units, while imported car sales added 2 percent to 297,000 units.

Hyundai Grandeur sold the most 89,084 units, becoming the top best-selling model at home. All the top 5 best-selling models were from domestic brands – Kia Carnival with 73,503 units, Hyundai Avante with 71,036 units, Kia Sorento with 69,934 units, Hyundai Sonata with 63,109 units.

Sales of Swedish brand cars and German brand vehicles rose 17.6 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Other foreign brands suffered losses: France (-17.5 percent), the U.K. (-11.2 percent), the U.S. (-7.2 percent) and Italy (-3.2 percent).

Amid the mobility shift to green fuels, conventional combustions engine-powered vehicles saw a 17 percent fall in sales, while eco-friendly vehicle sales jumped 54.5 percent.

Korea exported total 2.05 million cars worth $46.47 billion last year, up 8.6 percent in count and 24.2 percent in value from the previous year, thanks to increased brand awareness of Korean brands. It is the first on-year growth of both number and sum since 2012.

Combined market share of Korean brands has been on a rise from 7.4 percent in 2017 to 7.6 percent in 2018, 7.9 percent in 2019, 8.0 percent in 2020 and 8.4 percent as of November 2021.

Hybrid car exports soared 71 percent on growing demand for eco-friendly vehicles, contributing much to the export growth. In the hydrogen car market, domestic brands have kept their lead for three consecutive years.

Overseas shipments of green vehicles took up 20.7 percent of total automobile exports, meaning that one out of five cars exported last year are eco-friendly cars, the ministry noted.

On the back of strong demand for cars outside the country, exports of auto parts also increased 22.2 percent to $22.78 billion worth in 2021.

In December alone, automobile output from Korea rose 7.5 percent to total 319,071 units against a month earlier, while sales at home fell 6.2 percent to 153,742 units. Exports totaled 191,817 units worth $4.23 billion, gaining 9.8 percent in number and 17.3 percent in sum.

By Lee Ha-yeon

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