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SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s vehicle exports experienced a sharp increase of almost 50 percent in the first half of the year, reaching a new record, due to strong demand for eco-friendly cars, the industry ministry said Monday.
The value of outbound shipments of automobiles totaled $35.7 billion during the first six months of the year, a 46.6 percent increase from the same period a year earlier, according to data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
This is the highest figure for any January-June period, surpassing the previous record set in 2014 at $25.2 billion.
In terms of volume, exports jumped 32.6 percent from the prior year to 1.42 million vehicles, the data showed.
The high demand for eco-friendly cars around the world was the main factor behind the overall growth of car exports.
The export value of eco-friendly cars surged 70.4 percent year-on-year to $12.4 billion in the first half.
A total of 385,000 units were sold overseas in the first half, meaning one out of every four South Korean cars sold in the global market was an eco-friendly one.
Electric vehicles accounted for the largest share, or 47.4 percent of the total exported eco-friendly cars in the January-June period, the data showed.
Domestic production rose 23.5 percent from the previous year to 2.19 million units on the back of the smooth supply of automotive semiconductors, contributing to the solid exports.
At home, sales of automobiles went up 10.7 percent year-on-year to 893,737 units in the first half.
Of them, sales of domestic models grew 8.7 percent from the prior year to 759,323 units, while foreign brands saw their sales here fall 3.1 percent from a year earlier.
A total of 264,000 eco-friendly cars, including EVs, were sold at home, accounting for 30 percent of the total vehicles sold in the first half, the data showed.
In June alone, the export value jumped 58.3 percent from the prior year to $6.23 billion.
The monthly car exports surpassed the $6 billion mark for the first time in March and have stayed above the level since then.
In terms of volume, exports jumped 40.8 percent year-on-year to 241,924 vehicles last month, the data showed.
Of the total, the value of eco-friendly cars sold overseas nearly doubled from the previous year to $2.2 billion in June, reaching the second-largest ever monthly figure.
In terms of volume, sales advanced 74.1 percent to 68,144 units last month. Of them, sales of electric and hydrogen models soared 155.2 percent year-on-year to $1.31 billion, and those of hybrid models went up 47.2 percent to $640 million.
Exports of plug-in hybrid models jumped 56.2 percent to $260 million, the data showed.
North America was the No. 1 export destination for South Korean cars in June, with sales jumping 64.3 percent from the prior year to $3.09 billion.
Shipments to the European Union almost doubled to $1.02 billion, and those to Asian nations soared 54.1 percent to $581 million. Exports to the Middle East went up 20.4 percent to $444 million.
Of the major firms, exports by Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Corp. grew 37.5 percent and 29.3 percent year-on-year last month, respectively.
Domestic production added 12.8 percent from the previous year to 370,284 units in June on the back of the smooth supply of automotive semiconductors, the data showed.