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November 15, 2021

South Korean import sales down 8% in October

Decline reflects ongoing global semiconductor shortage, which is affecting the supply of imports from leading global vehicle manufacturers.

By David Leggett

Sales of imported light passenger vehicles in South Korea fell by a further 8% to 18,764 units in October 2021 from 20,406 units in the same month of last year, according to registration data released by the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).

This follows a 7% decline in September and reflects mainly the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, which is affecting the supply of imports from leading global vehicle manufacturers. Importers continued to significantly outperform local vehicle manufacturers, however, which reported a 21% decline in domestic sales to 106,424 units combined.

Import sales in the first ten months of 2021 were up by over 8% at 233,432 units from 216,004 units a year earlier, with German-owned brands accounting for almost 74% of the total.

Earlier this month the country’s Ministry of Environment announced it will fine Mercedes-Benz Korea US$3.6m and Stellantis Korea US$1m for manipulating emissions data and said it will launch additional legal proceedings.

Mercedes-Benz’ continued to lead the import segment with a 9.5% sales rise to 65,855 units year-to-date. The company launched the EQA electric vehicle model earlier this year, to be followed by the EQS before the end of the year.

BMW sales increased by 22% to 57,265 units in the first ten months of the year, while Mini’s sales were up by 5% at 9,675 units. Earlier this year BMW Group Korea said it planned to launch ten new models in the country this year, including EVs and Mini-branded models, while also expanding and upgrading its network of dealers and service centers.

Volkswagen reported an 2% increase in ten-month sales to 12,534 units, helped by the launch of the T-Roc compact SUV earlier in the year. The all-new Golf compact car is scheduled to be launched before the end of 2021, to be followed by the Teramont SUV and the all-electric ID.4 in 2022. Audi’s sales were down by almost 5% at 18,560 units in the same period, while Porsche reported an 18% rise to 7,723 units

Earlier this year KAIDA said it expects its members to launch a total of 53 all-electric models in South Korea between 2021 and 2023, as well as 46 mild hybrid and 32 hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric models. This will put further pressure on the smaller domestic manufacturers.

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