Sales of imported light vehicles in South Korea were flat at 20,450 units in December 2018 compared with 20,428 a year ago, according to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).

Over the full year, import sales were up by 11.8% at 260,705 units, up from 233,088 units in 2017, helped by the return of Volkswagen and Audi, after over a year, following the 2016 diesel emissions scandal.

Imports, excluding medium and heavy commercial vehicles, accounted for just under 15% of the country's 1.76m total light vehicle sales last year.

Mercedes-Benz was the largest light vehicle importer in 2018, as sales rose 2.8% to 70,798 units while BMW's slice – including the Mini brand, contracted around 14% to 59,715 units as demand was affected by last year's high profile recall of diesel models because of the risk of an engine fire.

Toyota-Lexus reported strong gains of almost 24% to 30,114 units, thanks largely to strong hybrid vehicle sales, while Volkswagen-Audi's sales jumped to 27,840 units from 962 units in 2017 as the group relaunched sales.

Land Rover was the largest of the remaining import brands, with sales rising almost 10% to 11,772 units, followed by Ford (11,586; +8.0%) and Volvo (8,524; +29.1%).

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