Last year, more than 130,000 imported cars were sold in Korea exceeding 12 percent of market share. Repair cost problems are coming to the surface under the circumstances.
For many imported car owners, the end of the third year after purchase is the point in time when they should decide whether to keep or sell their cars. This is because the balance they have to pay surges for many of them from that point of time, along with the repair costs with the warranty period being expired.
According to the Korea Insurance Development Institute’s data made available on February 18, the repair costs for imported cars were up to eight times more expensive than those for domestic ones in the same price ranges. This can be attributed to the higher costs of the auto parts and the smaller inventory of the parts in Korea. Imported car drivers have to pay greater working expenses and wait longer to have their cars repaired, too.
Another problem is the smaller number of repair shops. According to the Korea Consumer Agency, BMW and Mercedes Benz handled over 3,000 cars in each of their repair centers last year. The number topped 2,000 for Volkswagen, Honda, Audi and Lexus during the same period.
“Although imported cars account for more than 10 percent of the local market, the percentage is the total of the 20 or so automakers doing business in Korea, which means it is not easy for each of the companies to expand their repair shops aggressively,” said an industry source, adding, “This results in a longer standby time, which, in turn, leads to various misunderstandings and inconveniences on the part of the customers.”