Electric vehicle (EV) sales in South Korea jumped by close to 170% to 11,866 units in the first half of 2018 from 4,412 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

The data excludes some small volume brands which do not provide sufficient detail to the association.

Local analysts suggested the inclusion of these smaller players would have lifted the country's EV market to over 12,000 units in the first half of the year - equivalent to 1.3% of total vehicle sales.

Total EV sales in the country last year amounted to 13,536 units, accounting for just 0.75% of the total vehicle market.

This year, the market has been driven higher mainly by strong demand for the Hyundai Ioniq and the Chevrolet Bolt.

First half sales of the Ioniq reached 4,488 units, or around 37% of total EV sales, while the Chevrolet Bolt accounted for a further 3,122 units, or 26% of the segment. 

The third best selling EV was the Hyundai Kona with first half sales of 1,380 units. The automaker claimed a waiting list of 15,000 buyers for this model.

Other key models include the Kia Soul EV, the BMW i3 and Renault-Samsung's Twizy two seater and SM3 ZE models. 

New models entering the market are expected to help drive demand higher, including the Kia Niro EV which is scheduled to be launched later this year.

Pre-orders for this model have already passed 5,000 units, according to the company.