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Sales of compact SUVs hit record high in May

All News 10:05 June 05, 2016

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- Compact sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have gained popularity among younger customers in South Korea as local automakers have released a series of fashionable, fuel-efficient models to grab a bigger chunk of the quickly growing market, industry data showed Sunday.

A total of 10,216 compact SUVs made by Korean automakers were sold in May, soaring 56.1 percent from a year ago, data by the companies showed. The latest figure broke the previous monthly record of 10,044 in December.

Since GM Korea Co. released the nation's first subcompact crossover SUV Trax in 2013, Renault Samsung Motors Co. launched the QM3 in 2014 and Ssangyong Motor Co. debuted the Tivoli in 2005. This year, Kia Motors Corp. released hybrid SUV Niro in April to fuel competition in the segment.

Among models, Ssangyong's Tivoli is the best-selling car that sold 5,490 units last year.

Kia Motors, the nation's second-biggest carmaker, also saw Niro stealing attention in the first month of its launch with 2,440 units sales, chasing after Tivoli.

Sales of small SUVs have steadily risen from 9,215 units in 2015 to 28,559 in 2014. It jumped to 82,308 in 2015 as Ssangyong's Tivoli made a splash in the market since its release in January 2015.

The boom continued this year as well, with sales in the first five months of this year jumping 34.1 percent to 36,505 units, data noted.

Its ratio in the total SUV market also surpassed the previous high to reach 24.2 percent in May.

Experts said compact SUVs have lured younger customers who prefer fuel-efficient models with affordable price tags over larger SUVs, expecting the trend to continue this year.

"We expect the unwavering popularity of compact SUVs in the latter half of this year," an official at one of the automakers said. "The ongoing competition between Tivoli and Niro could help push up overall sales this year."

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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