By Baek Byung-yeul
With drivers preferring larger vehicles these days, city cars have continued to lose their presence in Korea’s car market. However, Kia is actually enjoying increased sales of its city cars, the Morning and the Ray.
A Kia representative said Monday that the Ray is especially attracting more drivers as the company has added more safety and convenience features to meet consumers’ needs.
“We believe that the reason the sales of the Ray have increased is that Kia has been improving various safety and comfort features. Also, the fact that the Ray is convertible into a camping car is increasingly appealing to consumers, who want to enjoy car camping,” the Hyundai Motor Group representative said.
Data showed that sales of the Ray in the first half of this year were 18,518, up 39.4 percent year-on-year, according to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA). Also, 18,413 Morning city cars were sold during the same period. In June alone, 3,349 Mornings were sold, a 2.7 percent increase from the same period last year.
While Kia is enjoying rising sales of the Morning and the Ray, the sales of GM Korea’s city car, the Spark, continue to decline. The sales figure for the Spark was at 2,276 in January, but the monthly sales from February to May dropped below 2,000. Therefore, the total sales figure for the first five months of this year was 9,035.
A local automotive industry representative said that small business owners have been increasingly purchasing the Ray as the city car’s boxy dimensions allow for more cargo space. GM Korea discontinued manufacturing the Damas ultra minivan and the Labo mini truck.
“The Damas and the Labo had been popular for small business owners, but after the two models were discontinued, these customers increasingly bought the van versions of the Ray and the Morning, which don’t have rear seats,” the representative said.
For drivers who prefer to drive small but practical cars, Hyundai Motor Group will continue to focus on the city car market, as a brand new city car is slated to hit the market soon.
The Hyundai Motor Group representative said that a mini SUV, known as the AX1, will hit the roads this year. The AX1 will be the first product put out by Gwangju Global Motors, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor and the Gwangju Metropolitan Government.
“Though it has not been decided yet, Gwangju Global Motors will begin manufacturing the AX1 soon and release the mini SUV within 2021,” the representative said.