Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea rebounded in March, by 8.1% to 24,094 units compared with 22,280 units a year ago, according to the monthly report released by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

This follows a decline of close to 5% in the first two months of the year, as local brands pushed forward with new models and more aggressive marketing and pricing. First-quarter import sales amounted to 55,999 units – in line with last year's volumes.

Importers also benefited from the reintroduction of the discounted sales tax rate of 3.5%, instead of the normal 5%, at the end of January.

European brands accounted for 80.7% of total imports in March, followed by Japanese brands wit 12.4% and US brands 6.9%.

Mercedes-Benz was the leading imported brand last month with a reported 5,162 sales, helped by the popularity of the new E220 – its best-selling model. BMW followed in second place with 4,317 units; while Volkswagen sold 3,663 units and Audi 2,552 units.