In recent months, it seems that South Korean buyers have been increasingly less enamored with hybrid vehicles... at least when it comes to buying them. In February, nationwide sales of hybrids dipped to only 591 units, a mere 0.5 percent market share.

A combination of bad publicity related to the spate of Toyota recalls and and high prices is being blamed for the poor sales. The top selling models were the Hyundai Avante (Elantra) and Kia Forte with just 266 and 307 units sold respectively. Sales of the Hyundai topped 1,000 units last July.

In spite of government tax incentives of over $2,600 toward the purchase of a hybrid, the price premium for the Avante hybrid is over $5,700. Hyundai recently cut the price of the Avante hybrid by $2,500 but it's too early to tell if that will turn the tide. Meanwhile, Koreans have been buying SUVs at an increasing rate with sales up 70 percent in the first two months of the year. Kia will launch its first U.S. market hybrid later this year in the Sonata.

[Source: Korea Times]

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