Sales of imported light passenger vehicles in South Korea fell 12% to 24,740 units in November 2023 from 28,222 units a year earlier, according to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA). The data did not include some non-affiliated brands, including Tesla.
The market continued to weaken amid sluggish consumer spending following the sharp interest rate hikes by the central bank in the last year from 1.25% to 3.5%. Importers also faced stronger competition from domestic brands, particularly Hyundai and Genesis. Overall sales by domestic manufacturers increased 3% to 132,589 units last month.
In the first 11 months of the year, import sales were 4% lower at 243,811 units from 253,795 in the same period of 2022 with German owned brands accounting for 75%.
BMW continued to lead this segment with year to date sales falling 3% to 69,546 units despite the launch of the new 5-series sedan last month while Mini sales were down 15% to 8,731 units.
Mercedes-Benz year to date sales fell 5% to 68,156 units with the brand recovering from much sharper losses earlier in the year. The automaker was scheduled to begin sales of its popular E-class next month which should help the brand challenge for segment leadership in 2024.
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Volvo reported a 22% rise to 15,410 units with the company strengthening its range with the launch its EX30 battery powered compact SUV last month.
Lexus was the best-performing import brand this year with an 87% surge in deliveries to 12,191 units, followed by Land Rover with an 68% jump to 4,684 units.
Toyota sales rose 31% to 7,602 units, helped by the recent introduction of the RAV4 PHEV and the Crown hybrid crossover as part of a broader plan to launch nine new Toyota and Lexus models in 2023.
Honda sales fell 58% to 1,234 units, split mainly between the Odyssey MPV and the CR-V. The company recently launched the 3.5-litre Pilot SUV, the two-litre hybrid CR-V and the Accord hybrid sedan to help reverse the decline.
Separate data showed Tesla sales increased 7% to 15,437 units YTD thanks mainly to the popularity of the Model Y.