Volkswagens no longer popular picks at Seoul’s used-car markets

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Volkswagens no longer popular picks at Seoul’s used-car markets

The lunch hour between noon and 1 p.m. is generally a busy time for the Janganpyeong used-car market in Seoul, with many people stopping in to check out the most popular models.

That list no longer includes any Volkswagens.

When the Korea JoongAng Daily visited Janganpyeong on Tuesday, dealers said the number of people who want to sell or buy Volkswagens and Audis have significantly dropped from a month ago. There were dozens of people searching for a car, but none of them were considering the previously popular models manufactured by the German automaker, which included the Golf hatchbacks and Tiguan SUVs. Most headed to sections displaying Korean cars like the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe.

“Volkswagen cars like the Golf hatchback were one of the most popular products here, but no one wants to sell or buy those cars anymore,” said dealer Lim Man-yeop.

“It means we are having trouble even acquiring Volkswagen cars from owners to sell, regardless of whether there are people who want to buy the brand or not. I think many [Volkswagen] owners are going to wait until the ruling of the lawsuit case filed by owners against the automaker comes out, since it could impact the overall car value.”

The scandal is also impacting the online market. Encar, one of the nation’s largest online used-car markets, said Thursday that about 35 percent of Volkswagens on their marketplace saw their prices drop an average of 5 percent after news of the scandal broke.

In Korea, there are about 120,000 cars with the problematic EA 189 engine, such as the Golf, Beetle, Passat, Jetta, Tiguan, Polo and CC. The company said Volkswagen’s new-car sales dropped in September by 7.8 percent from a month earlier, totaling 2,901.

The trend is similar at Carz, another online used-car trader. It reported 73 Golfs sold from Sept. 1 to 19, but that dropped to 64 from Sept. 20 to Oct. 1, adding that it would decrease even more, since the number of people asking the company to sell their Volkswagen-made vehicles is decreasing.

“The number of people looking to sell diesel cars is increasing lately due to the scandal,” said a Carz spokesman. “But few transactions have been made, since used car dealers want to acquire those cars, particularly Volkswagens, at prices lower than before, but owners don’t want to take that hit.”

But opinions differ among dealers, with some saying that the prices of used Volkswagens and Audis might not fall as much as predicted.

“Consumers don’t actually like things like recalls because it’s a hassle to have to personally drive their car to the company to be refitted,” said dealer Seo Kwang-seok at the Janganpyoeng market. “The number of transactions might be reinvigorated when this scandal sinks below the surface. But as of now, it is obvious that sales of Audis like the A4 and A6 - two of the most popular models here - are falling fast.”


BY KWON SANG-SOO, KIM JEE-HEE AND CHOI JEONG-PIL [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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