Sales of imported light passenger vehicles in South Korea increased by over 12% to 20,304 in March 2020 from 18,078 units in the same month of last year, according to member data released by the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association.

The import sector continued to outperform domestic manufacturers with temporary closures continuing to disrupt local production last month.

Import sales in the first three months of the year were up by 4.8% at 54,669 units, from 52,161 units a year earlier, with German automakers selling a combined 31,644 units or almost 58% of the total.

Mercedes-Benz remained the leading import brand in the three month period, with sales rising by over 11% to 15,400 units, followed by BMW with a more than 40% sales rise to 11,331 units as the company continued to recover from a damaging recall campaign in 2018. 

Volkswagen also made strong progress in rebuilding its market presence, with sales rising more than sevenfold to 3,535 units, while Audi 's sales were down by just 4.3% at 2,449 units after the brand posted a 46% decline in the first two months of the year.

Porsche's first quarter sales were down by more than 23% at 1,378 units.

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 over 62% to 4,377 units in the first quarter of the year. Lexus was the best selling Japanese brand with 1,395 deliveries, down 67% year on year.