In March, the number of newly registered imported passenger cars dropped 31.5 percent on year due to delayed certification and inventory shortage.
The number of imported passenger cars newly registered in March stood at 18,078, down 31.5 percent from the same month of 2018 and up 13.8 percent from February, the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association said on April 3.
Accordingly, the market share of imported cars in the domestic passenger car market stood at 13.65 percent in March, the lowest level in two years and three months since December 2016 (12.42 percent). In the first quarter of this year, the cumulative number of imported cars slid 22.6 percent to 52,161 units from 67,405 units in the same period of 2018.
This is blamed on the delay in the certification process in Europe after the emission certification system was changed to the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) in the second half of last year and a shortage in inventories of major new models scheduled for launches.
By brands, Mercedes-Benz maintained its No. 1 position with 4,442 units, followed by BMW with 2,999 in March. Mercedes-Benz and BMW have suffered steep declines in sales in Korea since the beginning of this year due to certification issues, but they remained as the top two leaders.
Honda sold 1,457 cars in March, taking third place. Its sales volume more than doubled year on year. The best-selling import car was the E300 from Mercedes-Benz, followed by the E300 4-Matic of the same brand, the Lexus ES300h and the Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4.
By displacement, cars with less than 2000cc displacement took the lion’s share at 106,27 (58.8 percent), those with 2000cc to 3000cc displacement numbered 5,852 (32.4 percent) and those with 3000cc to 4000cc displacement sat at 1,248 (6.9 percent). By country, Europe accounted for 66.8 percent, followed by Japan (24.1 percent) and the United States (9.1 percent). By fuel types, gasoline models accounted for 56.3 percent, followed by diesel models (29.4 percent), hybrids (13.6 percent) and electric cars (0.7 percent).