Sales of imported light passenger vehicles in South Korea rose by just over 8% to 21,839 units in September 2020 from 20,204 in the same month of last year, according to member data released by the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).

This compared with a 25% sales rise by the five main domestic vehicle manufacturers, following significant new model launches over the last year by leading brands such as Hyundai and Kia. 

In the first nine months of 2020, sales of imported light passenger vehicles increased by almost 15% to 191,747 compared with 167,093 units in the same period of last year.

German brands continued to dominate this segment with combined sales rising by over 38% to 128,903 units to account for two thirds of total imports. 

Mercedes-Benz remained the leading import brand, albeit with sales falling by 2.4% to 53,571 units year to date after a 23% drop in September.

The company plans to strengthen its model line in the fourth quarter with the launch of three new SUV models – the GLB, GLA and GLE Coupe. 

BMW reported a 38% sales rise to 41,773 units in the nine month period, as the company continued to rebound strongly from a damaging recall campaign in 2018.

But, last month, South Korean prosecutors raided BMW Korea's headquarters in Seoul as part of an investigation into allegations of a cover up of mechanical defects blamed for a 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 234% to 10,476 units while Audi's sales jumped almost fourfold to 16,971 units.

Porsche sales were up by over 88% at 6,312 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 49% to 14,528 units year to date with Lexus sales falling by almost 45% to 5,750 units.