Niro PHEV model [Courtesy of Kia]
The popularity of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) is waning in South Korea as electric vehicles (EVs) that offer a longer driving range become more widespread.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA) on Monday, sales of imported PHEVs reached 9,103 units in the first 10 months of this year. Prospects are that annual sales will remain below 10,000 units.
Sales of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), on the other hand, came to 270,000 units between January and October, chasing closely behind the sales of gasoline-powered vehicles.
Sales of imported PHEVs have been on a decline every year after reaching 19,701 units in 2021. Last year, sales fell 35 percent to 13,114 units.
Korea’s top automakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp. have also suspended sales of PHEV models in 2020. The suspension came on the belief that having to charge both electricity and gasoline would present a disadvantage to consumers.
A PHEV is a vehicle that combines the characters of both a gasoline car and a battery electric vehicle (BEV). As it is equipped with low-capacity batteries with a maximum range of 50 kilometers by using an electric motor, it drew huge attention upon launch as it can use electricity for short distances in the city and use gasoline for longer distances.
However, the advantage of being able to utilize both electricity and gasoline started to become a downside as the range of BEVs increases.
“As the driving range of electric vehicles has increased, there is no reason to choose PHEVs,” said an industry official.
Analysts note that the loss of government subsidies for PHEV purchases also contributed to the decline in sales. Initially, the government provided subsidies of up to 5 million won ($3,862) per vehicle, but the program was abolished in 2021.
By Park Je-wan and Choi Jieun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]