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Imported cars show record sales in May

With 4,570 units sold, 5% mark is within reach

June 06,2007
Car imports set another record for monthly sales in May. Newly registered import cars totaled 4,570 units, up 25 percent from a year earlier and 10.3 percent from April, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.
In the first five months of 2007, 21,066 foreign cars were sold here, more than half the 40,530 units sold in all of 2006.
“If the sales momentum of import vehicles persists, Korea will be able to see sales well over 51,000 units this year, surpassing the target of domestic market share at 5 percent,” said a spokesman with the association. Last year, imports accounted for 4.2 percent of all cars sold here.
A car expert said the 5 percent mark is a significant milestone for import vehicles because it marks widening accessibility to general consumers.
“Spurred by the Korea-U.S. free trade pact, Korea’s import market has the potential to outpace 10 percent in a very short time span,” he said.
Many industry insiders, importers of U.S. vehicles, in particular, have consistently asserted that the optimum market share for import vehicles in Korea is 10 percent.
Among almost 20 import vehicle brands, Honda’s leap was the most noteworthy. The Japanese carmaker ranked No. 1 in accumulated sales for the first time since it came to Korea in 2004, posting sales growth of over 130 percent from January to May. Last year, Honda took the sixth spot, following Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and others.
Honda’s CR-V sport utility vehicle was the best-selling model of all foreign vehicles. The ES350 sedan from Honda’s homegrown rival Toyota was the next most popular model, followed by BMW’s 320i.
Peugeot and Volvo said they also saw the largest number of sales since they entered the Korean market. A Peugeot spokeswoman said its diverse model portfolio, including a recently launched hardtop convertible, has helped. The relatively cheaper C30 compact hatchback, targeting younger customers, led sales gains for Volvo.
Yoon Dae-sung, an executive from the import vehicle association, said, “A variety of marketing schemes by importers and an array of new cars, coupled with seasonal factors, have contributed to record-breaking monthly sales in May.”


By Seo Ji-eun Staff Writer [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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