Vehicle production in Korea fell to its lowest level in 13 months in September, owing to the three-day Chuseok holiday and strikes of two car manufacturers of Hyundai Motor Group.
According to data released by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport on October 10, South Korea’s five automakers produced a combined 287,978 units in September, down 16.2 percent from the same period last year. It marked the lowest monthly production since August last year, when car output stood at 237,077 units due to strikes.
Hyundai’s car output dropped 22.6 percent year-on-year to 115,106 units in September, while that of Hyundai’s sister company Kia Motors fell 18.6 percent to 90,511 units from a year earlier. Lost production resulting from the partial strikes of the two car makers in September is estimated to total 1.4 trillion won (US$1.3 billion).
Outputs of GM Korea and Renault Samsung Motors fell 5 percent and 17 percent, respectively, in the same period. Ssangyong Motor’s production inched up 2.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of newly-registered cars produced in the nation edged down during this year from a year earlier, whereas that of newly registered import cars jumped about 20 percent.
The accumulated number of registered cars in September edged up 2.2 percent from a year earlier to 19.2 million units. The Ministry forecast the number would reach 19.4 million units at the end of this year, based on the trends.
During this year, 1.1 million cars were added to the registration, up 1.29 percent from the same period last year. The number of import cars increased 20.8 percent to 118,642 units, while that of domestic manufactured cars was down 0.51 percent to 1.0 million units.
As for import cars, BMW posted both the largest number of registrations and fastest growth. 25,262 BMW models were newly registered this year so far, up 16.6 percent from a year earlier. 19,055 units of the “Mercedes-Benz E-Class” were registered in the same period, up 20 percent from last year.
Among domestic manufactured cars, the new registry of GM Korea’s cars went up 1.3 percent and that of Ssangyong Motors 31.7 percent. In contrast, the number of newly-registered Renault Samsung cars saw a 5.6 percent decrease, Hyundai Motor a 0.98 percent decrease, and Kia Motors a 3.1 percent decrease, respectively.
Industry sources said the skyrocketing sales of foreign-made cars were due to the free trade agreement between Korea and the European Union (EU), and young consumers’ preferences for import vehicles.