Sales of imported light passenger vehicles in South Korea fell 6% to 22,565 units in September 2023 from 23,928 a year earlier, according to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).
The data did not include some non-affiliated brands like Tesla.
The import market continued to decline last month amid sluggish consumer spending following sharp interest rate hikes by the central bank in the last year, from 1.25% to 3.5% currently. Some consumers last month delayed purchases ahead of new model launches by key brands while sales also continued to be held back by low stocks of some key models.
Sales by domestic vehicle manufacturers also declined 6% in September to 107,017 units.
In the first nine months of the year (YTD), import sales were lower by 1% at 197,742 units from 200,210 with German brands accounting for 75% of the total. BMW continued to lead this segment with YTD sales falling by just 2% to 56,529 units ahead of the launch of the new 5-series sedan this month while Mini sales – redesigned models are due soon – were down 17% at 7,002 units.
Mercedes-Benz sales fell 3% to 54,376 units year to date with the brand recovering from much sharper losses earlier in the year helped by new EV models such as the EQB SUV and the EQE and EQS sedans.
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Volvo reported a 32% rise to 12,507 units YTD with the company set to further strengthen its range next month with the launch of the EX30 electric compact SUV following the recent launch of the larger EX90. The local distributor earlier this year revealed plans to invest US$85m to strengthen the sales and aftersales network.
Lexus reported the strongest gains of all brands YTD with sales more than doubling to 10,045 units, followed by Land Rover with a 99% jump to 4,093 units.
Toyota sales rose 24% to 6,045 units helped by the recent introduction of the RAV4 PHEV and Crown hybrid crossovers as part of a broader plan to launch nine new Toyota and Lexus models in 2023.
Honda sales plunged 68% to 814 units, split mainly between the Odyssey MPV and the CR-V. The company has just launched two new models, the 3.5-litre Pilot SUV and the two-litre hybrid CR-V, with the Accord hybrid sedan scheduled for launch in November.