This year's exports of knock-down (CKD) automotive kits from South Kirea are expected to more than double to around 780,000 units compared to 2003, the Korea Herald reported.

Knock-down exports in the 11 months to November neared 707,200 units, marking a much sharper year-on-year surge of 29.5% than 9.8% rise in assembled car exports.

GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. shipped off more than 448,400 kits during the 11 months, up 49.5% compared to a year ago, close to its exports of 487,500 assembled cars. The nation's third largest automaker exports through the worldwide network of General Motors, mostly to China, India, Thailand and Colombia.

While Hyundai Motor saw close to the same number as 2004, with 212,000 units, Kia Motors KD exports jumped 59.8% to 44,000 units, the paper said.

"KD export contracts usually cover a longer period of time than that of completed cars. KD facilities are also much less costly to build," a GM Daewoo official told the Korea Herald.

However, KDs lack profitability compared to completed vehicle exports and they are usually sold under other brands abroad.

"Most KD exports are made to countries where imports of completed cars are not allowed," an official at the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association told the paper.

The association of domestic carmakers forecast KD exports to soar 20.8% to $4 billion, with the 18% increase in volume to 920,000 units, the Korea Herald added.

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