The preference for sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other large vehicles is growing in South Korea over smaller ones as consumers opt for more space and convenience.
According to an analysis by Maeil Business Newspaper into the annual sales and vehicle size of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp. on Sunday, the average size of new cars has become larger significantly over the last 20 years.
In 2022, a car was 4.6 meters long on average, 1.8 meters wide, and 1.5 meters high, and weighed 1,436 kilograms. The average length of a new car sold last year, in the meantime, increased 1.6 percent, width 3.4 percent, height 3 percent, and weight 10.3 percent.
When compiling only compact cars and those of higher level, the average length increased 4.2 percent to 4.9 meters last year compared with 20 years ago. The width also increased 4.7 percent, height 2.2 percent, and weight 13.4 percent.
The change in car size comes as demand for large vehicles grows among consumers based on higher purchasing power. Industry insiders noted that consumers in the past bought new cars upon a rise in disposable income but now they seek preference over budget.
The Korean automotive industry, in the meantime, has witnessed a stalled demand for compact and midsize cars while a rise in the sales of recreational vehicles, SUVs, and minivans.
Compact and mid-size sedans like Hyundai Motor’s Avante and Sonata accounted for 61 percent of the entire sales of new cars in 2002. Now, they take up only 46 percent.
The share of large vehicles, on the other hand, surged to 33 percent from 28 percent over the same period, and that of SUVs and RVs to 56 percent from 38 percent.
According to data from auto market research agency CarIsYou, 38 percent of 21.5 million registered cars in Korea was RVs, trailing behind sedans with 49 percent.
With the growing popularity of SUVs, automakers in Korea are releasing larger models.
The new model of Kia’s Sorento, a mid-size crossover SUV, released last year, for example, is 4.81 meters long and 1.9 meters wide, which is larger than the model released 20 years ago at 4.6 meters and 1.89 meters respectively.
“Consumers in the U.S. and Europe tend to prioritize vehicle function when buying new cars whereas those in Korea think of cars as an asset,” said Kim Pil-soo, a professor in automotive engineering at Daelim University. “Korean consumers prefer bigger and more expensive cars as they care much about what others think about them.”
By Moon Gwang-min and Han Yubin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]