Foreign car association hoping to shift 120,000 units in 2012

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Foreign car association hoping to shift 120,000 units in 2012

The Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (Kaida) expects 120,000 foreign vehicles to be sold this year, about 15,000 more than last year.

If that forecast is correct, imports will account for more than 10 percent of car sales in Korea, compared to 7.98 percent last year.

The estimate was announced at a press conference yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of imported cars being sold in Korea.

In 1987, Mercedes-Benz sold 10 cars; today, 25 carmakers - including Bentley, BMW and Citroen - offer 350 models at 260 dealers nationwide.

“For the past 25 years, industry officials have strived to remove the negative image of imported cars - that they are exclusive products for the rich,” said Kaida Chairman Jae H. Jung. “Now the association is set to strengthen after-sales service to maximize consumer satisfaction.”

Since 2000, car sales have increased 20 to 30 percent annually.

Meanwhile, the average price of imported cars fell to 63 million won ($53,125) last year from 77 million won in 2003.

In 2006, people in their 40s were displaced as the largest group of foreign car buyers by people in their 30s, who last year bought 36.4 percent of imported cars.

Customers in their 20s bought only 7.6 percent last year.

Diesel fuel vehicles, which were introduced in Korea in 2005, now represent nearly half of all foreign car sales, according to Kaida.

In the first six months of this year, more than 62,000 imported vehicles were sold in Korea. This is a 20 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

In 2011, for the first time since foreign brands entered the local market, sales topped the 100,000 mark as 105,037 units were bought by consumers in Korea.

Kaida was confident that bilateral free trade agreements with the United States and EU will help further expand import brand sales, despite a weak global economy.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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