Emissions scandal affects import car sales
Compared to June, sales of foreign cars tumbled 32.8 percent, according to data released Thursday by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (Kaida).
Volkswagen, still mired in a global-scale emissions rigging scandal, saw the biggest sales drop. Its market share of import cars in Korea nose-dived 76.8 percentage points to 2.7 percent from June to July, becoming the country’s 10th-most popular brand. Only 425 new Volkswagen models were sold in July.
In June, the German carmaker was the fourth-best-selling brand after BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
Audi, also part of Volkswagen Group, saw its market share fall 46.5 percentage points to 9.56 percent in July, but it was still the country’s third-most popular brand.
“The import vehicle market in July shrank from the previous month, affected by the end of the 30 percent cut on the special consumption tax levied on new cars and reduced sales of a certain brand,” said Yoon Dae-sung, executive director of Kaida.
The Ministry of Environment on Tuesday revoked the certification of 83,000 vehicles encompassing 80 models in 32 variants sold by Audi Volkswagen Korea, accusing the company of falsifying emissions and noise test results. The move has effectively ended sales of these models in Korea.
In late June, prosecutors detained an Audi Volkswagen Korea executive for the company’s rigged emissions and noise tests, following lawsuits against Volkswagen Group in the United States that same month. The impact of these measures spilled over into July, and the repercussions still remain, especially with the ministry’s recent move to revoke certification.
The increased number of consumers who lost faith in eco-friendly diesel cars led to fewer vehicles of this type being sold in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period a year earlier. Their market share during the January-July period fell 5.2 percentage points year on year to 63.4 percent, while their gasoline counterparts saw a market share advance of 2.9 percentage points to 30.6 percent over the same period. The share of hybrids almost doubled to 6 percent, whereas the share of electric cars halved to 0.1 percent.
The most popular models in July were the Mercedes-Benz E300, which sold 1,133 units; BMW 520d, with 448 units; and Mercedes-Benz C220, with 445 units.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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