The expansion of Volkwagen’s gas emissions device rigging scandal is showing signs of undermining the position of German cars in the imported car market in Korea. Some even predict that import car sales will plummet in the third and fourth quarters of this year, as most imported cars in the Korean market are diesel.
According to industrial sources, German cars such as those of Volkswagen, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz enjoy the lion’s share, 74.6 percent, of the Korean market in Aug. They were followed by Japanese cars (10.2 percent), U.S. cars (5.3 percent), U.K. cars (3.9 percent), and French cars (3.7 percent). In a nutshell, German cars stand out from the domestic pack.
From Jan. to Aug. of this year, German automobiles recorded a 69.2 percent market share in the import market in Korea. Japanese cars led by Toyota inked 11.6 percent. In particular, the bestselling import car in Korea in Aug. was the 854 Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI. 854 units of this model were sold. The Audi A6 35 TDI came in second with 795 units, while third place was held by the Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI at 740 units. Volkswagen and Audi are subsidiaries of the Volkswagen Group.
At the moment, this scandal is highly likely to make a change in the market situation. This is because diesel vehicles accounted for 72.3 percent of import car sales in Aug. In terms of total sales from Jan to Aug., the percentage stood at 69 percent.
Such worries are already having a negative impact on some import car dealerships. Increasingly, customers who bought Volkswagen and Audi cars have called their dealerships in Seoul to ask them whether or not their cars are okay. Such dealerships are also suffering a drop in customer visits.
“The media continues to carry stories that Volkswagen cars have some problems, so I called my dealership and asked them whether or not my car had such problems,” a customer who purchased a Golf 2.0 TDI last year. “But they said that they did not know about that yet. I am not happy about that.”