Three US automakers are expected to increase marketing and sales in Korea to battle Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors under the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement which will take effect early next year.

In addition, a great number of Japanese cars produced in the US will likely be imported under the coming slash in tariff on automobiles. Toyota has just announced it will sell US-made Camry models in South Korea from next January.

Tariff on US-made automobiles will be lowered from 8% to 4% under the bilateral trade pact and the 4% tariff will be removed in four years, the Korea Herald said.

Ford plans to open seven more Korean showrooms next year and increase the number of dealerships from the current 15 to more than 30 within three years.

Chrysler Group, which had mostly imported large sedans, will launch small sedans including the Fiat 500 in 2012. The group’s three affiliated brands -Chrysler, Fiat and Jeep - will also diversify import models.

GM Korea has opened a big scale dealership in southern Seoul as part of its effort to attain a double-digit market share in Korea.

The three US carmakers plan to cut prices as soon as the FTA is implemented.

Nissan, which attracted a great number of Korean customers by launching the box-type vehicle Cube this year, will also import several new models from its US plants.

It wants to make its Infiniti series one of the top three import brands in the premium luxury segment.

To block their dominant market share, Hyundai and affiliate Kia are poised to boost marketing of small sedans and compact cars.

The Korean companies will also unveil new models ? the third-generation Hyundai Santa Fe and the K9, a luxury Kia.

Hyundai has over 40% of the market while Kia’s share hovers at 30%.

US carmakers have long expressed uneasiness about the trade imbalance between the two countries in the automobile sector, the newspaper noted.

In the US, Hyundai sold about 7.13m units in the past 25 years and Kia’s sales came to about 3.68m over 17 years.

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