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S. Korea's auto exports fall 8 pct in April

2018/05/17 11:00

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SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's automobile exports slipped in April from a year earlier on tepid sales in the North American market and General Motors Co.'s cutting back production ahead of a planned plant shutdown, government data showed Thursday.

South Korea exported 220,273 vehicles worth $3.55 billion last month, down 8 percent compared with a year ago, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Overseas sales of Korean autos continued to show a downward trend as major markets, including the United States, Middle East and Latin America, posted lackluster performance.

Shipments to North America, one of South Korea's main auto markets, sank 15.3 percent on-year on feeble demand and intensifying competition from other global brands.

Europe was the only bright spot for Korean autos. Exports to the European Union and non-EU states grew 10.6 percent and 41 percent, respectively, over the period.

In contrast, exports of auto parts rose 6.6 percent on-year to $2.03 billion thanks to strong demand in China and other emerging markets.

Hyundai Motor Co.'s cars are parked at a shipping port in the southeastern city of Ulsan on March 26, 2018. (Yonhap) Hyundai Motor Co.'s cars are parked at a shipping port in the southeastern city of Ulsan on March 26, 2018. (Yonhap)

A total of 354,156 cars were produced in April, down 7.4 percent from a year earlier, as GM's local unit halted manufacturing some models designed for overseas markets, the ministry said.

GM Korea's car production tumbled 30.7 percent last month as it has been scaling back its production line ahead of a planned factory shutdown. The decision also hurt consumer sentiment in the domestic market, prompting the automaker's domestic sales to plunge 48.8 percent to 5,378 units in April.

GM Korea is set to shutter its plant in the southwestern city of Gunsan by the end of this month, which manufactured the midsized Cruise sedan and Orlando SUV.

Domestic sales of locally produced vehicles edged up 1.4 percent on-year to 133,575 units last month, while those of imported brands soared 24.4 percent to 27,167 units as German luxury cars continued to gain popularity among local consumers, the ministry said.

ejkim@yna.co.kr

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