Last year, import cars’ share of the South Korean market reached a record high as the number of newly registered foreign brand cars rose by 11.8 percent over the previous year.
The Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association said on Jan. 4 that the number of imported cars registered in Korea totaled 260,705 in 2018, exceeding 260,000 for the first time.
As a result, import cars accounted for 16.7 percent of the domestic passenger car market, renewing the previous record of 15.5 percent set in 2015.
By brand, Mercedes-Benz retained its top spot with the registration of 70,798 units. BMW maintained its second place with 50,542 units, but its total sales dropped 15.3 percent from a year earlier. Toyota came in third with 16,774 units, a 43 percent increase from the previous year, followed by Volkswagen (15,390), Lexus (13,340), Audi (12,450), Land Rover (11,772), Ford (11,586), Mini (9,191), Volvo (8,524), Honda (7,956), Chrysler (7,590) and Nissan (5,053).
By engine displacement, automobiles with engine displacement of 2,000 cc or less came in first with 167,174 units (64.1 percent), followed by 77,586 units with displacement of 2,000cc to 3,000cc (29.8 percent) and 13,193 units with displacement of 3,000cc to 4,000cc (5.1 percent).
Last year, the best-selling import model was the Mercedes E300 4MATIC that recorded 9,141 new registrations, followed by the Lexus ES300h (8,803), the Mercedes E300 (8,726), the BMW 520d (7,696) and the Mercedes E200 (7,195).
By region, European cars topped the list with 194,175 units (74.5 percent), followed by Japanese cars with 45,253 (17.4 percent) and U.S. cars with 21,277 (8.2 percent).
By fuel type, gasoline models accounted for 123,272 units (47.3 percent), exceeding diesel models (106,881 units, 41 percent). In 2017, diesel vehicles accounted for 47.2 percent of the market, selling more than gasoline vehicles (42.9 percent). The drop in demand for diesel cars is mainly attributed to a series of engine fires of some BMW diesel cars last year.
Last year, 30,760 import hybrids were newly registered, chalking up a 32.9 percent increase from the previous year. Newly registered import electric cars reached a mere 191.
In December, sales of imported cars totaled 20,450 units, a decrease of 8.7 percent from the previous month.