Car buyers get completely practical

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Car buyers get completely practical

What do Korean drivers desire most from carmakers? Fancier silhouettes? Cheaper prices?

How about a long term payment plan with no interest?

According to a survey by the nation’s largest used car dealer, SK Encar, the greatest wish of Korean consumers when buying a car is a good, long, cheap payment plan. Of respondents to the survey, 34.08 percent chose that option. The online survey, which was conducted last month, queried 490 people.

“Purchasing an automobile is one of the largest purchases for individuals behind buying a house,” SK Encar said in a release. “The reason why people want interest-free payment plans is that it is the best way to reduce the financial pressure on families.”

Giving a subsidy on acquisition and registration taxes was the second item on the wish list, chosen by 17.76 percent of respondents. SK Encar said although those taxes are dwarfed by the costs of cars, consumers still want to reduce their outlays. Giving a subsidy based on fuel costs was No. 3 with 16.12 percent. According to data from Green Consumer Network in Korea, people who drive their cars at least four times in a week spend 253,000 won ($ 227.59) on fuel costs in the average month. This is the largest expense for vehicle maintenance. Consumers told SK Encar in the survey, “Even if the car has excellent design or performance, you can’t drive it if there’s no fuel.”

A sticker-price discount (14.69 percent) and free maintenance service for a long period (14.29 percent) took fourth and fifth place in the survey. The company said that discounting the retail price of a new car seems to be most eye-catching promotion when purchasing a car at the first place, while free maintenance appeals to consumers who want to cut the costs over the long term.

Demand for automobiles has been weak in the first two months of this year, pressing automakers to come up with better promotions. According to data from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, 204,512 domestic passenger vehicles were sold in the first two months of this year, down 2.8 percent from a year earlier. Even sales of fuel-saving city cars dropped 8.2 percent on-year. Industry insiders said that promotions that offer direct financial benefit will likely increase in the future.

“Consumers are becoming careful in a sluggish economy.” Choi Hyun-seok, a marketing director at SK Encar, said.


By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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