Foreign cars broke sales records despite the VW scandal
According to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (Kaida) on Thursday, 243,900 imported cars were sold in 2015, a 24.2 percent increase from a year earlier.
This is not only the largest number of imported vehicles sold in Korea since the market opened nearly three decades ago, but it is also the first time annual sales have exceeded 200,000 units.
In December alone, 24,366 foreign cars were sold, which not only accounted for 10 percent of overall import sales last year but also set an all-time record for monthly sales.
“Last year, a favorable environment that included a stable foreign currency exchange, low crude prices and temporary lowering of the individual consumption tax, as well as a preference for small and midsize vehicles, SUVs and diesel cars, played a significant role in helping sales grow more than 2014,” Yoon Dae-sung, executive director of Kaida, said.
Many expected sales of imported brands - particularly Volkswagen - would drop after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the German automaker had tampered with emissions testing for its diesel vehicles. Volkswagen’s sales tumbled in October but eventually recovered thanks to the company’s aggressive marketing, which included discounts.
As a result, Volkswagen’s Tiguan 2.0 TDI BlueMotion became the best-selling imported car last year with 9,467 units sold. Audi’s A6 35 TDI was second with over 7,000 units, followed by BMW’s 520d with over 6,600 units.
Overall, BMW did the best among foreign brands by selling 47,877 cars last year, its seventh straight year at the top in Korea.
It was clear that German brands continue to dominate the import market, as their combined market share accounted for 68.5 percent, even though that was slightly less than 2014’s 69.4 percent.
Among the top five brands, four were German, with Ford taking fifth place. The second-most popular brand was Mercedes-Benz, which fell slightly short of rival BMW, with 46,994 cars sold last year. Volkswagen came in third after selling 35,778 vehicles, while Audi was fourth with 32,538.
Japanese and U.S. brands also saw their sales increase more than 20 percent year on year last year.
Diesel vehicles still dominated, accounting for 68.8 percent of all newly purchased foreign cars last year.
BY KIM JEE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]