Imported car sales in Korea jumped over 30 percent in February from a year ago, reconfirming its explosive growth. But it fell over 6 percent compared with the month before.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) on March 6, a total of 13,852 new foreign-made cars were newly registered, up 31.2% from 10,556 units in the same month of last year.
KAIDA said the year-on-year gain comes after annual foreign car sales hit a record high of 156,497 units in July of 2013, showing over a 30 percent year-on-year gain. The latest month sales, however, fell 6.7 percent compared with January, when 14,849 foreign cars were sold in the local market. This result came from fewer working days, supply issues of some models, and slower promotion in the month. The accumulated sales from January to February reached 28,701 units, up 25.3 percent from the same period of last year.
The drop in sales compared with January is in contrast to slight gains posted by five local carmakers, such as Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Motors. Sales of locally-made cars edged up 0.6 percent in February from the month before, to 107,004 units. This is also an 8.3 percent increase from the year before.
Market share by imported cars stood at 12.9 percent for last month, down one percentage point from January.
In particular, local consumers’ preference for diesel cars and German models is exacerbating. The weight of diesel cars among the imported vehicles was 69.8 percent, up around 10 percent from a year earlier.
The weight of German cars was 74 percent in February, around 8 percent from a year ago. Recently, the Korean import car market was actually dominated by the best selling models such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Audi, which is quite different from the past when the local consumers showed a variety of tastes for American or Japanese brands crowned as best-selling cars.
Among imported cars, German luxury brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi ranked in the top three in terms of sales, followed by Volkswagen and Ford. Japanese carmakers such as Toyota and Nissan came in sixth and seventh, respectively, with Honda ranking #10, KAIDA said.
BMW sold 3,154 vehicles overall, with sales of Mercedes-Benz and Audi reaching 2,641 and 2,187 units, respectively. Volkswagen sold 2,104 cars, with numbers for Ford reaching 558 units.
European cars accounted for 82.2 percent of total sales last month, followed by 11.4 percent by Japanese cars and 6.4 percent by U.S. brands.
By engine size, 53.6 percent of all foreign cars bought by local consumers were smaller than 2,000 cubic centimeters (cc), with those ranging between 2,000cc and 3,000cc making up 32.7 percent of the total.
The association added that the best-selling foreign car last month was the diesel-powered BMW 520d with 702 units sold, followed by Volkswagen’s Golf 2.0 TDI with 622 vehicles.