Sales of Imported Cars Keep Growing

By Kim Seong-min | January 30, 2018 10:36

The imported car market in Korea is growing rapidly. Foreign carmakers sold 233,088 cars last year, the most since 2015, when their sales reached 243,900.

Sales of imported cars grew 78 percent in the last five years, despite a brief drop in 2016 following Volkswagen's emissions-rigging scandal. Imported cars accounted for 15.2 percent of the domestic market last year, up from 10 percent in 2012.

The Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association expects the growth trend will continue as Audi and Volkswagen are about to resume sales after the scandal.

The German carmakers were among the top five foreign brands here until 2015 with combined annual sales of more than 30,000 units. However, Volkswagen sold no cars last year and Audi just 962 cars due to a sales ban.

Volkswagen now plans to release its popular Tiguan SUV and Arteon four-door coupe this year. Among other foreign carmakers, BMW plans to release more electric and hybrid models, while Mercedes-Benz is expected to strengthen its luxury lineup with a focus on flagship models including its E-Class Cabriolet, a luxury convertible.

"Despite their explosive growth here, imported cars still account for less than 20 percent of the domestic car market, the lowest among OECD countries, so there is room for further growth," said Lee Ho-geun, a professor at Daeduk University.

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