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April 20, 2005

SOUTH KOREA: Foreign car makers boost sales networks

Foreign car makers are boosting their Korean sales networks with new showrooms and service centres nationwide.

Foreign car makers are boosting their Korean sales networks with new showrooms and service centres nationwide.

The Korea Herald said the investments reflect an all-out race to attract Korean car buyers, despite sluggish sales over the past few years. More than 5,800 foreign cars were sold in the first quarter this year, accounting for nearly 3% of all new registrations in the January-March period. Import sales exceeded 20,000 units for the first time last year, with 23,345 sold.

Audi Korea, which was set up last October, reportedly said it will open a showroom in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul on Tuesday – the Korean arm of the German car maker recently opened showrooms in Bundang, southeast of Seoul, and Songpa-gu, southeastern Seoul, to support sales, customer service and parts. The opening next week will give Audi seven showrooms in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province and 11 nationwide.

The paper said Honda Korea, which opened its first showroom outside Seoul in Busan in January, plans to open another in Bundang within the year while Nissan Korea is slated to open showrooms in Gangnam, Seocho and Bundang in early July as it launches its luxury Infiniti brand.

According to the Korea Herald, Volkswagen Korea recently enlarged its showroom in Daejeon, about one-and-a-half hour’s drive south of Seoul, and is scheduled to open more in the western city of Incheon and Suwon, southeast of Seoul. The local unit of Europe’s largest carmaker is also revving up its sales network after signing a strategic alliance with Daewoo Motor Sales Co. in February.

The aggressive drive of newcomers is stimulating other carmakers with longer histories in Korea, the report noted.

DaimlerChrysler Korea plans to enter Incheon next month, after unveiling its Busan showroom next Wednesday while Hanbul Motors, importer of the French marque Peugeot, reportedly said it will open a dealer in Busan and one in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul next month. Peugeot just opened its five-storey Daejeon showroom that will accomodate a variety of facilities where customers can enjoy wine tastings, work out and practise golf.

Toyota Korea opened a showroom in Daejeon last month and decided to open another one in the city, the Korea Herald said, noting that the central city has proven to be a recent popular destination for new dealerships. Jaguar & Land Rover Korea also said it will open a showroom there.

“Foreign carmakers chose Busan and the southeastern area as their second market after Seoul since customers there wouldn’t travel all the way to Seoul to buy cars,” Yoon Dae-sung, executive director of Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, told the Korea Herald. “Now, they are reaching for Daejeon, as the city’s demand for foreign cars increased and its logistics importance grew with the recent move to make it the administrative capital. It is also a major stopover of KTX high-speed trains.”

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