The Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA) announced on February 10 that the sales of imported hybrid cars in South Korea hit a record high of 16,259 units last year to increase by no less than 66.1% from a year ago and break the 10,000 unit mark for the first time. During the same period, the sales volumes of imported gasoline cars and imported diesel cars increased 16% and 21%, respectively. The imported hybrid car sales volume in South Korea exceeded 2,000 units in 2010, 7,000 in 2014 and 9,000 in 2015.
Such a rapid growth was because of various reasons, including hybrid cars’ excellent fuel economy and lack of noise, an increasingly negative view on diesel cars in terms of environmental friendliness, an increase in the number of automakers supplying hybrid cars and the shortage of electric vehicle infrastructure. Last year, the sales of electric vehicles fell 2.1% from a year earlier in South Korea.
Industry experts are forecasting that the hybrid car sales volume will continue to rise for the time being because international oil prices are rebounding these days. Under the circumstances, a large number of automakers are launching hybrid cars. For example, Honda released the All New Accord Hybrid in South Korea last month and Infiniti added the Style model to its lineup of the Q50S Hybrid on February 9. Lexus is currently providing a special promotion for the ES300h, which accounted for 64% of the hybrid car sales volume last year, to provide it for three years for a monthly lease of less than 500,000 won.
Lincoln launched the New MKZ Hybrid late last year. The face-lifted version of the 2014 Lincoln MKZ has a gas mileage of 15.8 kilometers per liter and can drive at 137 kilometers per hour in its electric vehicle mode. BMW is planning to launch the plug-in hybrid models of New X5 xDrive 40e, New 330e and New 740e.
Hyundai Motor Company is preparing to hit the market with the Grandeur Hybrid and the Ionic Plug-in Hybrid in the first half of this year. Kia Motors is to launch the Niro PHEV and GM Korea unveiled its Volt PHEV early this month.