The Korea Herald reports that import makes are planning significant expansion in the Korean market for the second half of this year.

The report cites a number of carmakers plans. BMW Korea, for example, is said to be planning to open 10 new showrooms and 10 service centers this year, as well as launch “golf marketing” targeting upper-class customers in its bid to become an industry leader.

The company broke a local record in June when it sold over 500 vehicles, thus becoming the first import automaker here to hit the 500-unit level in one month.

The report adds that Toyota is planning to expand its stores from three to six this year to meet its newly adjusted year-end sales goal of 2,500 units.

Hansung Motor (importer of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche) will open a new showroom in Gangnam, southern Seoul in September and intensify marketing of the new Mercedes E-Class.

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The report adds that DaimlerChrysler Korea is working on remodeling its stores in regional cities like Busan and Daejeon as part of its celebration for the 10th year anniversary.

GM Korea is set to launch new models – Cadillac CTS in September and Saab New 9-3 in December – to strengthen its lineup.

The Korea Herald says that industry sources say the import automakers are presently working to move as many vehicles as they can before the excise tax is restored in September. Total import car sales here this year could reach 15,000 units.

The Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade (KIET) is forecasting that annual auto passenger car imports to South Korea will reach 51,000 units by 2005 – which compares with around 10,000 units per annum currently. The projected import level will account for a share of the car market of around 3% (assuming a market total of 1.71 million units).