According to auto industry sources in South Korea and Japan and the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) on May 21, Mercedes-Benz sold 24,877 cars in the first fourth months of this year, while BMW sold 18,115, up 48 percent and 32.4 percent from a year earlier, respectively. On the other hand, the two German carmakers sold 21,365 and 15,818 cars respectively in Japan during the January-April period, up just 0.7 percent and 2.2 percent from the previous year.
Annual sales of Mercedes-Benz and BMW in South Korea have never surpassed that in Japan. Considering the fact that Mercedes-Benz sold 3,000 more vehicles and BMW sold 2,000 more in South Korea compared to Japan, the two automakers are expected to have higher annual sales in South Korea than Japan this year for the first time.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW saw its sales increase in South Korea due to a ban on the sale of some Audi and Volkswagen cars. The two German carmakers apparently absorbed customers who were planning to buy imported vehicles. From January to April, Japan was ahead of South Korea in terms of the size and growth of the imported car market. Imported carmakers sold 96,877 vehicles in Japan during the four months, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, while selling 75,017 units in Korea, a 1.6-percent on-year gain. By contrast, Mercedes-Benz and BMW accounted for 57 percent in the domestic imported car market during the same period, up 16 percent points from 41 percent a year ago. The two automakers took up 38 percent in the Japanese imported vehicle market, down from 40 percent last year.
Both Mercedes-Benz and BMW have established a joint venture with local companies to produce and sell cars in China, the world’s largest market. South Korea will become Asia's largest importer of Mercedes-Benz and BMW vehicles when the two automakers sell more vehicles in South Korea than Japan this year.