A record number of imported cars were sold in Korea last year. According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association on Wednesday, the number of newly registered foreign cars rose 16 percent to 105,037 units from 2010, due largely to the Korea-EU free trade agreement, which took effect last July, as well as the release of a diverse range of new models. Imported cars accounted for seven percent of total car sales here.
When the Korean automotive market first opened to foreign brands in 1987, only 10 foreign cars were sold here -- all of them Mercedes Benz. But by 1996, this number had soared to around 10,000, with a broader range of vehicles on offer. Two years later, with the advent of the Asian financial crisis, the number plummeted to 2,075, before returning to five figures by 2002. After this, popular demand drove up sales ten-fold in the space of a decade.
BMW sold the highest number of cars at 27,575 (including its revamped Mini) here last year, followed by Mercedes-Benz (19,534), Volkswagen (12,436), Audi (10,345) and Toyota (9,131, including the Lexus).
The single most popular model in 2011 was the Benz E300 sedan, which took pride of place with 7,019 cars sold for the second straight year. Next came the BMW 520d (6,211), BMW 528 (5,940), Benz C200 (2,374), and Volkswagen Golf 2.0 (2,271). Premium brands also saw their sales soar by 40 percent to 80 percent on-year, with Porsche selling 1,301 cars, Jaguar 1,016, Bentley 102 and Rolls-Royce 27.