Japanese car sales recover as discounts are offered

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Japanese car sales recover as discounts are offered

Japanese car sales are recovering after a dramatic falloff earlier in the year as deep discounts were offered to overcome a consumer boycott.

A total of 2,357 cars from the country were sold here in November, which is 19.2 percent more than in the previous month, according to a Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association’s (Kaida) report released Dec. 4.

The brands covered were: Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Infiniti and Nissan.

Toyota’s recovery was especially pronounced, with the company selling 780 units in November, up 91.2 percent on month. The rebound in sales for Lexus, Infiniti and Nissan was 13.8, 89.3 and 106.5 percent, respectively. Honda reported a decline in sales.

The Japanese automakers are still behind for the year. Sales from January to November totaled 32,991 units, a 19 percent decrease from the 40,663 units in the same period a year ago.

Korean customers have been shunning Japanese products as tensions with Japan increased following its establishment of export restrictions.

Japanese automakers have been introducing aggressive promotions ahead of the year’s end. Infiniti offered a rebate of up to 10 million won ($8,370) for the QX30 AWD, and Nissan will provide 17 million won of free gas for customers when they make a purchase using company financing.

Honda is offering discounts of 6 million won on the Accord 1.5 Turbo.

Toyota and Lexus, which seldom hold promotional events, have joined the pack. The brands are offering free gas for buyers of the Prius and the Lexus LS500.

The Japanese companies are working to improve goodwill by making cultural and social contributions. Toyota Motor in Korea held various social events, such as 100 staff and executives making kimchi on a volunteer basis and a classical music concert.

“With Korean consumers’ distaste against Japanese auto brands still remaining, those automakers are pouring efforts into social contribution events as part of an indirect marketing strategy,” said an industry official.

Total sales of foreign cars in November increased by 14 percent on year to 25,514 units, the highest since April.

Mercedes-Benz sold 6,779 units in November, down 6 percent on year. BMW sold 4,678 units and Audi 2,655 units. Chevrolet sales were counted for the first time by Kaida, and the total for November was 1,783 units.

The recent best seller among foreign brands was the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI, with sales of 1,640 units. The Audi Q7 45 TFSI quattro and A6 45 TFSI Quattro were ranked second and third, at 1,150 and 1,008 units, respectively. The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt took the fourth place at 824 units, followed by the Mercedes-Benz C200 and E250 at 757 and 755 units respectively.

BY KIM YOUNG-JU [kim.byungwook@joongang.co.kr]

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