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April 12, 2005

SOUTH KOREA: Renault-Samsung dismisses anti-Japan claims

Renault Samsung has dismissed concerns it might be another victim of South Korea’s rising “anti-Japan sentiment” because of its ties with Japan’s Nissan Motor.

Renault Samsung has dismissed concerns it might be another victim of South Korea’s rising “anti-Japan sentiment” because of its ties with Japan’s Nissan Motor.

Local media has reported comments on websites that say Koreans shouldn’t buy Renault Samsung cars – the SM5 and SM7 -because they are the “simple copies” of Nissan’s Teana.

The anti-Japan sentiment, caused by that country’s claims on islands in the sea between South Korea and Japan, has already hurt sales by Lexus and Honda. In contrast, sales of BMW and Audi have risen.

“The anti-Japan sentiment isn’t hurting Renault Samsung sales at all,” a company spokesperson said. “SM7 took 34% of the large luxury sedan market segment to be No. 1 ahead of Hyundai’s Grandeur XG.”

In November last year, Renault Samsung launched the Nissan Teana platform-based SM7, which has a new VQ V6 engine from Nissan.

Renault owns 44% of Nissan as well as 70.1% of Renault Samsung, South Korea’s fifth-largest automaker, whcih sells most of its products in its home country.

Cashing in on the rising popularity of imported cars in South Korea, Nissan is preparing to make its Korean debut at the Seoul motor show in late April with five models including luxury brand Infiniti.

Peter Chang

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