South Korea’s vehicle exports fell to the lowest point in 17 years in February.
The Korea Automobile Industry Association (KAMA) estimated Korea’s car exports in February at 119,942 units. The figure represented a 26.89 percent decrease from the same month in 2019 and the lowest monthly record since the 114,401 units in August 2003. It is about one-third compared to the export peak of 304,774 units in December 2014.
The sharp decline in exports has been predicted. In February, Korean automakers all went through shutdowns due to the disrupted supply of wiring harnesses. Some companies had to shut down for up to one week. In February, Korean automakers' utilization rate reached only 57 percent.
Sluggish exports were blamed on the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The virus spread rapidly during the Chinese New Year holidays, bringing a halt to parts supply from China. The supply disruption wreaked havoc on the Korean car industry.
Industry analysts say Korean automakers have no choice but to wait and see the situation at this time. They say that it is fortunate that factories in Korea are running as those in the world's largest markets such as the United States and Europe are all locked down.
Foreign automakers producing cars in Korea cannot help waiting for an order from their headquarters due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Among automakers in Korea, GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors, and SsangYong Motors are owned by foreign companies. They have no alternative but to closely monitor overseas situations.