U.S. cars now No. 2 imports, overtaking Japan'sU.S. automakers overtook Japanese brands to take the No. 2 spot in the imported car market in Korea last year, a report showed Sunday, taking advantage of the local boycott of Japanese products over trade and wartime legacy disputes.
A total of 46,000 cars from U.S. automakers were sold in Korea last year, accounting for 15.2 percent of the overall imported car sales, according to data by the Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA).
German brands topped the ranking with 187,000 units for a 61.7 percent market share, while Japanese makers slipped to the third spot after their sales reached only 21,000 units for a 7 percent share.
Sales of Japanese cars have declined for two consecutive years in Korea since Tokyo placed export curbs on Seoul in 2019, while prolonged wartime forced labor and sexual slavery issues also frayed bilateral relationship between the two nations.
In contrast, sales of U.S. vehicles have been increasing since 2017, benefiting from the U.S.- Korea free tree trade agreement.
The data showed Korea became the ninth-largest auto market for the U.S. in 2020 after Americans shipped 67,000 vehicles, or 2.8 percent of its total auto exports, to Korea.
KAMA said the market share of Korean brands in the U.S. auto market is also expanding, with the combined market share of Hyundai Motor and Kia reaching 8.5 percent in 2020, which is close to their largest market share of 8.9 percent in 2011.
Hyundai Motor and Kia had a combined 9.4 percent market share in the U.S. in the first five months of 2021.
GM Korea’s increased auto exports have also helped expand the presence of Korean-made vehicles in the U.S.
The Korean unit of General Motors last year shipped 233,000 units to the U.S. Of the 227,000 small SUVs sold in the U.S., 80.2 percent, or 182,000 units, were produced by GM Korea, according to KAMA.