By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, May 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's auto exports nearly halved in April from a year earlier, as consumers around the world tightened their belts amid lockdowns meant to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, data showed Friday.
Local carmakers shipped 123,906 units of cars overseas last month, down 44.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. In terms of value, auto exports fell 36.3 percent over the period to US$2.39 billion.
In the first four months of 2020, South Korea shipped 599,071 units of cars, down 25.5 percent on-year, the data showed.
The new coronavirus, which has infected at least 4.4 million around the world so far, has disrupted trade and halted production around the globe, with a rising number of countries shutting their borders.
South Korea's top player Hyundai Motor Co. saw its exports crash 38.7 percent despite an increase in shipments of a handful of models, including the Palisade SUV, as sales of other products lost ground.
Kia Motors Corp., an affiliate of Hyundai Motor, also saw its exports halve over the period as its overseas distributors shut down businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exports of Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. fell 72.5 percent and 60.3 percent, respectively, over the cited period.
By destinations, exports to North America dropped 28.2 percent, and sales to the European Union also decreased 25.1 percent on-year.
Sales to Asian countries fell a whopping 62.1 percent in the face of the pandemic, the data showed.
South Korea's combined auto production decreased 22.2 percent on-year to 289,515 units in April due to the fewer number of working days coupled with falling overseas demand.
Domestic sales, on the other hand, increased 8 percent to 167,375 on the back of carmakers' promotions and marketing efforts.
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