Q1 Car Sales Rise to 3-Year High

Car sales in Korea hit a three-year high in the first quarter of this year and rose for three straight months, boosting expectations of a long-awaited recovery in private spending.

The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association on Tuesday said 382,021 domestic and imported cars were sold from January to March, up around 6.6 percent on-year. It was the biggest increase since the first quarter of 2011, and 138,230 cars were sold in March alone.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said improving consumer sentiment and new cars had led to rising sales.

Almost 9,500 Porter one-ton trucks were sold in March, making them the bestselling model. Small trucks are favored by small businesses, and their sales figures serve as a barometer of an economic situation. Overall sales of one-ton trucks in March rose more than 23 percent compared to the same month last year to reach 11,600 units.

The recent release of new cars leads to expectations of further rises in domestic sales in the coming months. Hyundai already saw some 18,000 pre-orders for its new Sonata since its release in March, which will be reflected in the April sales figure.

GM Korea recently boosted output of the diesel version of its Chevrolet Malibu mid-sized sedan after receiving orders for more than 2,000 units. A GM Korea spokesman said customers have to wait two or three months until delivery, despite the fact that this is not a new model.

Renault Samsung decided to increase supply of its QM3 small SUVs imported from a plant in Spain to 2,000 units a month due to rising demand. Imported cars are also setting new records in monthly sales.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 09, 2014 12:21 KST