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April 11, 2017

South Korean import sales drop 8% in March

Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea fell by 8.4% to 22,080 units in March from 24,094 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA).

Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea fell by 8.4% to 22,080 units in March from 24,094 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA).

The import segment struggled once again last month, after declining by 7.6% to 225,279 last year, as Volkswagen and Audi both continued to face sales restrictions following their widely reported emissions cover up scandal last year. 

Some 80 Volkswagen and Audi models were banned from the market last August, leaving the field open to Mercedes-Benz and BMW which have been the main beneficiaries of these events.

First quarter sales of imported vehicles were down just slightly, by 1.8% to 54,966 units from 55,999 in the same period last year, after making moderate gains in January and February.

Imports account for just over 15% of the total vehicle market in South Korea, despite a recent survey revealing that around 30% of motorists in the country would consider buying a foreign car brand.

Foreign automakers are also increasingly targeting the growing market for low and zero emissions vehicles in South Korea, as the government steps up efforts to improve recharging infrastructure.

Toyota recently launched its new Prius plug-in hybrid model in the market, while GM launched the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle. These are mainly competing with local models such as the Hyundai's Ioniq plug-in hybrid, which was launched earlier this year.

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