Industry insiders are debating on the heritage of Renault-Samsung’s QM3 that the local carmaker now imports from Spain, as the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) must decide whether or not it should include the model in the list of imported cars. The KAIDA conducts a survey on the sales of imported cars every month.
In November, 1,000 QMs were sold in just 7 minutes via pre-order sales. Renault-Samsung plans to ship all of the pre-ordered units by the end of the year.
Reflecting this figure in KAIDA’s December chart complicates things. Assuming December’s sales remain the same as that of November, the QM3’s numbers will propel it past Ford, which sold 780 units in November. The QM3 will also likely match or outsell Audi, the 4th best selling import brand with 1,650 units sold. This will not bode well for Volkswagen either, the current top seller (2825 units), since Renault-Samsung has about 5,000 QM3 units reserved on a waiting list.
Interestingly enough, Renault-Samsung has kept an awkward stance on this issue, putting a further spin to the debate. Samsung claims, “Strictly speaking, it is imported, but we are a domestic automobile brand. We will include them in our local accounts as we are the seller and owner of the brand,” stressing, “Sales figures should not be included in the data of imports.”
Ultimately, the distinction between import and export is based on the location of manufacture. But Renault-Samsung stubbornly insists, “We have manufacturing facilities in Spain. It makes all the economic sense to build our cars there because of low cost, efficiency, and proximity to our distribution network in Europe. That is all.”
According to an industry insider, “It is very interesting that the carmaker does not promote the QM3 as an import model, although local consumers think generally imported cars carry a degree of aura and prestige, giving manufacturers bragging rights so to speak. But Samsung-Renault is doing the opposite, claiming that their car is domestic,” adding, “This appears to be a strategy to bring a new sensation for the company once it has drawn attention from consumers.”
The Korea Insurance Development Institute has finally put a stop to this debate. According to the auto insurance rating, QM3 is categorized as “other,” giving it a 10 rating, categorizing it as an import.
However, insurance agents give a different side to the argument. When asked how much insurance would cost for a QM3 minus discounts, the answer was about 700,000 won (US$665), which is a typical cost for a domestic car in a similar class.