Sales of imported light passenger vehicles in South Korea rose by just over 9.8% to 24,257 units in October 2020 from 22,101 in the same month of last year, according to member data released by the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).

In the first 10 months of 2020 sales of imported light passenger vehicles increased by over 14% to 216,004 compared with 189,194 in the same period of last year. German brands continued to dominate this segment, with combined sales rising by over 30% to 145,507 units to account for over two-thirds of total imports. 

Mercedes-Benz remained the leading import brand, albeit with sales falling by 4.4% to 60,147 units year to date, with the company looking to strengthen its line up in the fourth quarter with the launch of three new SUV models - the GLB, GLA and GLE Coupe. 

BMW reported a 37% sales rise to 47,093 units YTD, as the company continued to rebound strongly from a damaging recall campaign in 2018. But in September South Korean prosecutors raided the company's headquarters in Seoul as part to investigate allegations of a cover up of mechanical defects blamed for the series of engine fires which prompted the recall.

Volkswagen has also made good progress in rebuilding its market presence following its earlier emissions cover up scandal, with sales surging by 232% to 12,209 units YTD, while Audi sales jumped by 177% to 19,498 and Porsche sales were up by over 88% at 6,560.

Last month VW announced plans to strengthen its line with the launch of the facelifted Passat GT in December, followed by the T-Roc compact SUV in February and the redesigned Golf 8 later in 2021. This will be followed by the Teramont SUV and the BEV ID.4 SUV in 2022.

Japanese brands continued to suffer from a broad based consumer boycott after a diplomatic spat broke out between the two countries last year.

Combined Japanese sales fell by almost 47% to 16,263 units YTD with Lexus sales falling by over 39% to 6,621 units.

Nissan is scheduled to withdraw from this market at the end of this year due to the adverse sentiment.

South Korean sales slightly higher in October