SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- Sales of environment-friendly cars in South Korea jumped nearly 28 percent in the first five months of the year compared with a year earlier on the back of strong demand for electric vehicles (EVs), industry data showed Sunday.
The number of environment-friendly vehicles, such as hybrid electric, all-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric models, sold in the January-May period reached 65,030 units, up 27.9 percent from the cited period in 2018, according to data from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) and foreign automakers.
In the first five months of the year, 50,894 environment-friendly vehicles from domestic automakers were sold, up 25.9 percent from a year ago. Sales of imported eco-friendly cars soared 36.1 percent on-year to 14,036 units in the January-May period, the data showed.
The domestic market share of environment-friendly vehicles was 10.6 percent in the January-May period, up 2.6 percentage points from a year earlier.
All-electric cars led the surge in sales. From January to May, 22,142 EVs from local automakers were sold, up 37.3 percent from the same period last year. Sales of foreign EVs increased more than five times, from 90 to 521 units, in the cited period.
Although the government decided to scrap subsidies for hybrid electric vehicles this year, sales of domestic hybrids climbed 14.5 percent on-year to 27,774 units in the first five months of 2019, while imported hybrids jumped 32.2 percent on-year to 13,525 units in the same period.
"Hybrids are more expensive than cars with combustion engines, but consumers appear to prefer them due to maintenance costs," an industry source said. "For EVs, government subsidies still seem to drive their sales."
On the flip side, sales of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles suffered a drop. Through May, 547,013 units of such cars were sold, down 7 percent from a year earlier.
Domestic automakers sold 471,131 units of cars with combustion engines in the January-May period, down 2.2 percent from the same period in 2018. Combustion engine car sales of foreign brands dropped 28.7 percent on-year to 75,882 units in the cited period.
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