By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports of automobiles jumped nearly 53 percent on-year in April, data showed Sunday, on the back of the global economic recovery coupled with a base effect.
The country's outbound shipments of automobiles reached 188,293 units in April, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. In terms of value, exports shot up 73.4 percent as South Korea sold more premium models.
Over the first four months of 2021, Asia's No. 4 economy shipped 734,448 units of automobiles, up 22.7 percent from the same period in 2020.
The rebound was attributed to a base effect as South Korea's car exports dropped 44.6 percent on-year in April 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ministry added that exports also gathered ground on strong demand for premium models along with other electric cars.
Industry leader Hyundai Motor Co. saw its exports jump 40.3 percent on the back of the release of the G70 sedan, along with robust demand for sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
Auto exports by Hyundai's smaller sister Kia Corp. more than doubled over the period to reach 89,500 units on strong performances of compact SUVs such as the Sportage.
Overseas sales by GM Korea Co., the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., on the other hand, shed 28.2 percent as its production was partially disrupted by the global shortage of automotive chips.
Financially troubled carmaker SsangYong Motor Co. managed to expand its exports by 30 percent on-year in April to 1,033 units on the Tivoli, Korando and Rexton Sports.
Exports by Renault Samsung Motors Corp. increased 87.2 percent on strong sales of the XM3 SUV.
By destination, exports to North America increased 66.4 percent, and those to the European Union jumped 89.8 percent. Shipments to other European nations gained 52.4 percent.
Auto shipments to Asian countries also more than doubled in April on-year.
South Korea's combined production of automobiles came to 323,644 units last month, up 11.8 percent on-year, as carmakers made efforts to limit the impact of global shortages of automotive chips.
Domestic sales reached 161,097 units, down 3.8 percent over the period.