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Korean Carmakers Struggling to Cope with New Trend of Shunning Diesel SUVs
Crisis of Diesel SUVs
Korean Carmakers Struggling to Cope with New Trend of Shunning Diesel SUVs
  • By Michael Herh
  • September 10, 2018, 12:12
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For Kia Motors, diesel models accounted for 75.2% of its SUV sales this year, the highest percentage among local car manufacturers.

Korean automakers are raking their brains to cope with the emerging trend of shunning diesel SUVs, which have been their mainstays for years. Kia Motors and Ssangyong Motor are expected to respond to the market change by offering environment-friendly cars such as hybrid and electric SUVs.

According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association on September 9, a total of 291,494 SUVs were sold in Korea between January and July this year, with diesel models accounting for 205,598 or 70.8%. This means that seven out of the 10 SUVs sold were diesel models. The percentage represents a drop of more than 20% points from 96.7% in 2013 but still stands at a high level.

By company, Kia Motors had the highest percentage of 75.2%, followed by Hyundai Motor with 74.5%, Ssangyong Motor with 70.3%, Renault Samsung Motors with 43.7% and GM Korea with 37.8%.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are diversifying their product lines into gasoline and eco-friendly models, but Ssangyong Motor produces only gasoline models as the automaker has not been able to launch an eco-friendly car yet.

Kia Motors has a full lineup of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) through its eco-friendly brand Niro. Hyundai also strengthened its eco-friendly SUV lineup by launching the Kona Electric and the Nexo, a hydrogen fuel cell powered crossover SUV model, this year. Ssangyong Motor said that they would be able to launch its own electric model in 2020.

More than half of SUVs sold by Renault Samsung and GM Korea were diesel models. Renault Samsung significantly lowered the percentage of diesel SUVs by launching the gasoline model of the SUV QM6. This pushed down the proportion of diesel SUVs in all SUVs sold to 30.1%. GM Korea has a lower percentage compared to those of Korean carmakers since its GM Headquarters mainly produces gasoline models.