Sales of import cars in Korea are expected to reach 300,000 units for the first time despite BMW fire accidents. In particular, sales of luxury cars that cost 100 million won (US$90,000) or more per unit are on a sharp rise.
Imported car sales are growing rapidly due to the resumption of sales of Audi and Volkswagen, the reduction of the individual consumption tax on vehicles, and the launch of new imported car models in the second half of the year, import car industry officials said on September 12.
The sales of import cars selling at 100 million won or more per unit have been soaring this year. "In August, import cars sold 9,206 units, up 9.5% from the previous year, but their monthly sales volume will soon recover to the 20,000 unit level in October," an import car industry representative said. “The number of import cars sold will reach 300,000 units at the end of this year at the earliest and their share in the Korean passenger car market will exceed 20%."
The effects of a cut in the individual consumption tax are also concentrating on import cars. By August of this year, cumulative sales of import cars reached 179,833 units, up 17.3% from 153,327 units in the same period of last year and grew nearly 10% in August compared to the same month of last year.
On the other hand, this year, domestic sales of five Korea-based automakers declined 1.4% to 1,017,000 units by August. In August alone, they grew 4.5%, about half of the growth of import car sales.
Audi has been leading the import car market via aggressive sales campaigns. Audi's medium-sized sedan A6 35 TDI sold 1,014 units in August, making it the best-selling car. Volkswagen's new Tiguan also exceeded 6,000 units in sales in 100 days since its launch.
Import car companies will launch many new models to ramp up their market shares. For instance, Mercedes-Benz Korea will launch the third-generation model of the CLS in the third quarter. Sales of import cars are forecast to surge in the second half of this year as supply shortage will be gradually eased.
"This year, sales of imported cars will total nearly 300,000 units and their market share in the Korean passenger car market will reach almost 40%," said an official of the automobile industry. "If Korea-based automakers do not begin aggressive and scientific customer management and delicate marketing, it may give half of the Korean market to import cars within several years."
Luxury import car sales also ballooned. Rolls-Royce sold 12 units in Korea in August alone. The automaker is selling six models in Korea and all of them are more than 400 million won a unit. By August of this year, Rolls-Royce sold 81 units, up 37.3% from the previous year. It was forecast that its sales would top 100 units this year.
Jaguar Land Rover, which sells expensive models over 80 million to 100 million won, is expected to sell more than 10,000 units for three consecutive years in Korea. Land Rover's sales in the first eight months rose 45% to 8,657 units. Porsche also saw 2,900 units sold during this period, up 56.4%. Bentley also increased its sales 30.2% to 194 units by the end of August. By the end of August of this year, these four high-priced import car brands sold 11,183 units in total.