Imported car sales hit new high in May

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea jumped 13 percent in May from a year earlier in the highest monthly sales ever, industry data showed Thursday.

A total of 13,411 units of foreign brand cars were sold in South Korea last month, compared with 11,708 units from a year earlier, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

Toyota Motor Korea Co., the local unit of Toyota Motor Corp., sold 1,314 units in May, up 128 percent from 576 units in April.

The dramatic increase in sales came as Toyota cut the price tags of its vehicles by about 3 million won (US$2,700) by taking advantage of a weak Japanese yen.

The yen depreciated more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past six months, driven by Japan's loose monetary policy. The South Korean currency rose 9 percent against the Japanese yen in the first five months of this year.

The combined market share of foreign cars stood at 12 percent in May, compared with 11.9 percent in April.

Meanwhile, the combined sales of five carmakers in South Korea edged down 1.9 percent on-year to 98,655 units due to a production cut.

In late May, unionized workers of Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest carmaker, resumed weekend production at several assembly lines in Ulsan, home to Hyundai's main production facility located some 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

The weekend work stoppage had prevented Hyundai from producing 79,000 vehicles between March 9 and May 18, costing the carmaker 1.7 trillion won (US$1.5 billion) in lost production.

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