According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA), exports of finished automobiles in February totalled 97,252 units, marking the first time in three years that vehicle exports did not reach the 100,000 monthly average mark.

Some 89,606 passenger cars and 7,646 commercial vehicles were exported last month. The two figures combined are 18.3 percent lower than the total sales in February of last year.

Hyundai Motor exported 28.6 percent fewer vehicles while changing operation schedules at its Ulsan factory in order to manufacture its new supermini, Getz (also known by its Korean name, Clix), which will debut in the European market later this year.
 
It exported a total of 52,604 units in February.

Kia Motors, too, saw an export reduction of 8.5 percent to 29,054 units, as it has been busy manufacturing its new cars, Sorento (Sportage replacement) and Spectra.

In contrast, South Korea's five automakers enjoyed a sharp growth in their local sales last month, thanks to a recovery in domestic consumption.

Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, Daewoo Motor, Ssangyong Motor and Renault Samsung Motors have said that their combined domestic sales in February rose 7.7 percent from the year-earlier month to 111,453 units.

The outlook for sales in Korea has improved this year. Analysts say that a number of major events in South Korea this year, including the World Cup soccer finals, compounded by the government's lowering of special consumption taxes late last year to spur buying, will drive the market up.