Sales of imported light passenger vehicles in South Korea rose by 4.5% to 31,419 units in December 2020 from 30,072 units in the same month of last year, according to member data released by the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).
Over the full year, import sales increased by over 12% to 274,859 units compared with 244,780 units previously, with German brands accounting for over two-thirds of the total with 186,179 sales. This compares with a 4.9% rise in domestic sales by local manufacturers to 1,607,034 units.
Mercedes-Benz was the leading import brand last yea, with sales falling by just 1.6% to 76,879 units after the company strengthened its model line in the fourth quarter with three new SUVs – GLB, GLA and GLE Coupe.
BMW reported a 32% sales rise to 58,393 units, as it continued to rebound strongly from a damaging recall campaign in 2018, while Porsche sales jumped 85% at 7,779 units.
Volkswagen also made good progress in rebuilding its market presence in 2020, following its earlier emissions cover-up scandal, with sales rebounding by 107% to 17,615 units while Audi sales jumped 114% to 25,513 units. The brands' local distributor Audi Volkswagen Korea Group recently said it plans to launch eight, new, all-electric models by 2023 to help fulfill growing local demand for zero-emission vehicles.
In the meantime the company plans to launch the T-Roc compact SUV in February 2021 followed by the redesigned Golf later this year and the Teramont and all-electric ID.4 in 2022.
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Japanese brands continued to suffer from a broad based consumer boycott after a diplomatic spat broke out between the two countries in the previous year. Combined Japanese sales fell by almost 57% to 20,564 units last year, with Lexus sales falling by over 27% to 8,911 units. Nissan has withdrawn altogether from this market due to the adverse market sentiment.