In the first quarter of this year, sales of imported cars in the Korean market grew 22.6% from a year earlier. While the market share of automakers in Korea has been shrinking due to a plunge in GM sales in Korea, import cars are stepping up its sales efforts in the Korean market.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA) on April 5, cumulative sales of import cars in the first quarter totaled 67,405 units, up 12,439 from the same period of last year (54,966 units). The top seven import car brands in Korea recorded year-on-year increases.
Mercedes-Benz, the No. 1 brand among import cars in Korea, sold 21,633 units in the first quarter, up 13.1 percent from a year ago. BMW, which is trailing Mercedes, sold 18,577 units last quarter, up 57.7 percent from a year ago. Toyota, Land Rover, Lexus, and Mini also posted double-digit growth last quarter.
In particular, the number of import cars sold in Korea in March was 26,402 units, a monthly high since December, 2015 (24,466 units). The figure was up 19.6 percent from a year earlier (22,280 units).
While import cars are increasing their market shares in the Korean market, automakers in Korea are losing their market shares.
Domestic sales of five automakers in Koreas -- Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea, Ssangyong, and Renault Samsung -- were 357,316 units in the first quarter of this year. This was a decrease of 14409 vehicles (-3.9 percent) compared to the same period of last year (371,725 vehicles) and the decline eclipsed an increase in import car sales (12,439 vehicles) in the same period.
It is analyzed that a drop in sales of GM Korea which was once again surrounded by a withdrawal rumor was attributed to a decline in auto sales of automakers in Korea. In fact, GM's cumulative sales in the first quarter ran to a mere 19,920 units, down 17,728 units from the first quarter of last year (37,648 units).