] Sales of eco-friendly cars in Korea surged 41.6 percent on-year in 2017, industry data showed on Jan.14.
Data provided by local carmakers and the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association showed sales of green cars -- hybrids, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and pure electric vehicles -- hitting 97,486 units last year, up from 68,826 in 2016.
Of the total, 83,762 or 85.9 percent were hybrid-types of vehicles, while the remaining were electric vehicles.
Data revealed that while hybrids still constituted the bulk of sales, demand for electric vehicles exceeded the 10,000-unit mark for the first time, reflecting growing consumer preference for zero-emission cars.
By carmaker, Hyundai and Kia accounted for 72.9 percent of all eco-friendly car sales followed by imports that made up 23.6 percent. Renault Samsung Motors’ sales reached 2.8 percent of the total, while GM Korea, which sells its cars under the Chevrolet badge, made up 0.6 percent.
By vehicle type, Kia’s crossover hybrid Niro was at No. 1 with 23,647 vehicles sold during the year. Hyundai’s Grandeur hybrid sedan came in second at 18,491 units sold. The Ioniq series of cars, comprised of hybrids, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles, also by Hyundai, came third with sales hitting 12,399 units.
Among imports, the Lexus ES300h posted sales of 7,627 units for the entire year.
Industry insiders said that while sales of hybrids and electric vehicles did not top the 100,000-unit mark last year, it is likely to do so in 2018 with the launch of more green cars. Eco-friendly car sales first breached an annual 40,000-unit sales mark in 2015.
Hyundai is set to start sales of its Nexo hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle in March, while sales of the electric vehicle version of the Kona small crossover are to begin in the first quarter. Kia is getting ready to unveil the Niro EV and a brand new Soul EV, to expand its lineup.
GM Korea said it will also start receiving orders for its popular Bolt EV this week, with some 5,000 orders placed so far.
Among imported brands, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Nissan all have plans to roll out new green cars in the South Korea market.
By Alex Lee and newswires (email@example.com