By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's auto exports more than halved in May from a year earlier due to falling demand in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic that as infected more than 7 million people, data showed Thursday.
Local carmakers shipped 95,400 units of cars overseas last month, down 57.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
In terms of value, auto exports also fell 54.1 percent over the period to reach US$1.81 billion.
In the first five months of 2020, the country shipped 693,805 units of cars, down 32.6 percent on-year, the data added.
South Korean carmakers have been facing an unprecedented challenge as consumers around the world tighten their belts following the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put great strains on the global economy.
Industry leader Hyundai Motor Co.'s exports crashed 58.5 percent in May from a year earlier, which was especially due to the sluggish sales in the European and North American markets. The robust sales of the Palisade SUV, however, offset the fall in part.
Kia Motors Corp., an affiliate of Hyundai Motor, also saw its exports plummet 58 percent 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 66.3 percent and 83.2 percent, respectively, over the cited period.
Outbound shipments of GM Korea Co., the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., also halved, according to the data.
By destination, exports to North America sank 54 percent, and shipments to the European Union lost 30.3 percent on-year in May. Sales to Asian countries moved down 65 percent.
South Korea's combined auto production decreased 36.9 percent on-year to 231,099 units in May due to the fewer number of working days coupled with shortages in some parts.
Domestic sales, on the other hand, managed to edge up 9.7 percent to 168,778 in May on the back of carmakers' promotions and marketing efforts.
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