South Korea's leading carmakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. dominated the Israeli car market in 2016, beating Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese rivals, industry data showed Sunday.
Hyundai, South Korea's top automaker and flagship of Hyundai Motor Group, sold 39,086 units in Israel last year, becoming the top seller there for the first time in three years, according to the data by Israel's auto industry association.
Hyundai's smaller affiliate Kia came in second with sales of 38,069 vehicles. In 2015, Kia was the best-selling brand in the Middle Eastern country, trailed by Hyundai.
Hyundai took up 13.6 percent of the Israeli car market last year, with Kia's share standing at 13.3 percent.
Toyota came next with shipments of 30,040 units, followed by Skoda with 19,511 and Mitsubishi with 17,988.
Israel has emerged as one of the three biggest auto markets in the Middle East. The market expanded 12.5 percent on-year in 2016, compared with a 6.2 percent gain in 2015 and a 12.8 percent hike in 2014.
Kia's Sportage SUV became the best-selling model among foreign cars in Israel last year with shipments of 14,072 units, up 29 percent from the previous year.
Industry watchers attributed Hyundai and Kia's strong sales to their efforts to attract Israeli motorists favoring small cars, as well as Israel's tax breaks for hybrid cars.
"Hyundai's Sonata hybrid has been dominating the Israeli market for mid-size sedans," a Hyundai Motor Group official said. "Hyundai and Kia have also taken the initiative in the hybrid market by debuting such models as the Niro and the Ioniq."