2010 city car sales to reach record high in S. Korea

By Choi He-suk, The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

SEOUL — City car sales are set to reach record levels this year in South Korea, industry data showed Thursday. According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, 144,520 city cars were sold by the end of November, marking an increase of 16.8 percent compared to the same period last year. During the same period, overall passenger car sales increased by 6.1 percent. With December figures still to be tallied, city car sales for the entire year are expected to climb to nearly 158,000 units, breaking the previous record of 151,275 units recorded in 2008. Carmakers have attributed the rise to city cars being given updated convenience and engineering features, attracting motorists who may have otherwise opted for larger vehicles. By model, Kia Motors Corp.’s Morning accounts for 64.2 percent of the Jan. to Nov. sales with 92,840 units sold during the period. Of the GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Co.’s Matiz Creative, about 52,000 units were sold here during the same period. With a market share of 13.1 percent for the first 11 months of the year, city cars’ presence in the local market remains below the previous peak recorded in 1998. In 1998, when the country was hard hit by the Asian financial crisis, city cars’ share of the local passenger car market rose to 27.5 percent. Since then city cars had fallen out of favor resulting in their market share dropping to 4.7 percent in 2006.