Import car sales in South Korea in March topped the previous monthly sales record at 10,648 units, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

A total of 29,285 imports were sold in the first quarter, up 13.9% year on year.

Strong sales of import cars are in sharp contrast with weak performance of local automobile manufacturers. At this pace, import cars are likely to pass 10% mark in market share this year.

BMW sold 2,560 cars in Korea last month, again ranking first among import car brands. BMW received over 3,000 orders for its redesigned 3 series in a month after launch and supply is insufficient to meet demand.

Mercedes-Benz sold 1,746 cars. Volkswagen (1,308 units), Audi (1,246), Toyota (876) and Ford (416) followed.

Toyota had outperformed Audi in February thanks to strong sales (721) of the new Camry and took fourth position. However, it fell back to fifth last month as Camry sales dropped to 449 cars in March.

Sales of Ford's Lincoln surged 80.9% from the previous month to 416 units in March. In an attempt to boost sales, Ford's aggressive marketing including lowering prices by up to KRW5.25m (US$4,654).