Big discounts whetted Korean customers’ appetite for Japanese cars, which were shunned following the Japanese government’s restriction of exports of key industrial items to Korea.
Sales of Japanese cars, which had fallen in the aftermaths of Koreans’ boycott of Japanese goods and services, have rebounded in three months.
The number of Japanese brand cars (Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Nissan and Infiniti) newly registered in Korea in October grew 79 percent to 1,977 units from 1,103 in September, said the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) on Nov. 5.
Sales of Japanese cars in the January-October period of this year hit 30,634 units, down 13 percent from 35,261 units in the same period of last year, but their market share stayed at 16 percent.
The rebound in sales of Japanese cars is temporary as it is attributable to the big discounts, market insiders say. It is still too early to say that Japanese cars have gotten out of the shock of the boycott.
Japanese car brands including Infiniti offered big discounts, ranging from 3 million won per unit to 10 million won. In addition, they offered big sales promotions such as a 60-month interest-free installment sales program and gas money worth millions of Korean won.
Japanese cars stood out in the hybrid market. Among the top 10 hybrid best-selling models, Japanese car brands dominated the top ten best selling hybrid standings except for the Ford Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (5th place) and the Mercedes-Benz C350e (9th place). The Lexus ES300h model sold most with 242 units, followed by the Toyota Prius (95 units) and the Lexus RX450h (87 units).
In October, Mercedes-Benz sold 8,025 units, the highest monthly sales ever. Mercedes-Benz's sales were sluggish due to a certification problem in the first half, but thanks to the launches of new models in the second half, Mercedes-Benz has sold 6,933 units since the beginning of this year. The 6,933 units in sales were a 10 percent jump from 57,117 units in the same period of last year. BMW sold 4,122 units in October, down slightly from 4,249 units in the previous month. Enjoying the effects of new model launches, Audi succeeded in reviving with 2,210 units sold in October.
As a result of a rise in Japanese car sales and year-end discount programs, the total sales of imported passenger cars in the month of October rose to 22,101 units, up 9.4 percent from 20,204 units in September. This year’s total sales volume of the imported car market arrived at 189,194 units, down from 217,686 units in the same period last year. This is blamed on delayed new model certification and weakened consumer sentiment. However, the imported car industry expects the decrease in imported car sales to drop as imported car brands will launch new models at the end of the year.