South Korean EV exports rise as Hyundai boosts output

  • Market: Metals
  • 07/14/20

South Korea's electric vehicle (EV) exports surged to an all-time high in June as Hyundai Motor ramped up production of crossover models, portending higher demand for nickel and other battery metals.

EV exports rose by 175pc from a year earlier to more than 13,500 units, data from South Korea's trade, industry and energy ministry (Motie) show. The strong performance sent shipments in January-June up by 82pc from a year earlier, even as South Korea's overall auto exports dropped by 33pc over the same period.

Demand for Hyundai's electric SUVs and its other crossover vehicles is so strong that sales have continued to rally despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Exports of the Niro EV produced by the group's Kia brand jumped nearly fivefold from a year earlier in June, while the redesigned Kia Soul EV posted a 128pc gain, Motie said, without giving unit figures. Exports of the Hyundai Kona EV almost doubled.

Demand for such models was similarly strong last year, especially in Europe and the US, but customer orders piled up on waiting lists as Hyundai struggled to produce enough EVs. Volumes are up sharply this year, with batteries supplied mainly by South Korea's LG Chem. But limited battery capacity has continued to constrain output of some EV models.

The increase in sales of EVs and slump in demand for conventional models means environmentally friendly vehicles are taking a bigger share of the market. South Korea's combined exports of EVs, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen cars totalled about 156,000 units in this year's first half, or nearly 19pc of total shipments, compared with an 8.7pc share in January-June 2019, Motie said. Domestic sales in the segment rose 59pc on the year in June to nearly 22,000 units.


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