Drivers in the home country of Hyundai and Kia, jointly the fifth largest automaker in the world, are still lifting demand for hybrid and diesel powered cars, more fuel efficient than gasoline versions, even as the petroleum prices have tumbled 25 percent.
The South Korean consumers are also upset that retail prices have not reached lower levels, with smartphone applications that track cheap fuel vastly popular – the country is also well known for its wide range of fuel prices, with some stations even having prices 50 percent lower than others. The public is also signaling that oil refiners have been slow to amend prices in order to buoy profits faster. The situation could be seen as the other side of the coin to the United States, fore example, where the plummeting gasoline prices have rekindled a love for large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. Meanwhile, in South Korea deliveries of hybrid-powered autos have jumped 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, outpacing by more than two times the overall market surge.
There is also the question of having higher prices than in the US, though – in South Korea petrol sells roughly for twice as much as in the former country, with IHS Automotive figures signaling that hybrid sales last year took a 4 percent market share – a new record. We expect hybrid car sales to remain strong going forwards,” said Kim Sang-dae, vice president at Hyundai. First quarter data is expected later this month and analysts believe the figures will be even better thanks to the introduction of a new government subsidy for hybrid vehicles, launched in the beginning of the year.