Foreign carmakers saw their sales of small vehicles with an engine capacity of less than two litres in Korea grow by 65.5% year on year.

They sold 25,456 units for the smaller segment vehicles during the first seven months of 2011, compared to 15,379 units for the same period last year, the Korea Herald said.

In contrast, sales of import vehicles with engine capacity between two and three litres fell from 21,439 to 19,867 units in the local market.

The trend is attributable to high oil prices and a variety of cheaper models introduced by them to compete with sedans of Korean automakers.

The new models include Mercedes-Benz C200, Audi A4, Toyota Motors’ Prius hybrid and Volkswagen’s CC 2.0TDi.

The ratio of smaller vehicles to the total number of import cars sold is approaching 50%, according to the Korean Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

A year ago, the ratio of small cars to the total import vehicles remained at 26.1%.

In terms of prices, sales of imported cars that are relatively low and vehicles between KRW30m (US$28,000) and KRW40m took up 25.7% of the market, a 5% increase from 2009.

Meanwhile, the import market share of cars priced at KRW50m to KRW70m dropped from 30% in 2009 to 27.2% in 2010 to register the lowest since 2003.