The market share of imported cars exceeded 10 percent for the first time in January. The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association on Monday said 81,952 domestic cars and 9,441 imported cars were sold last month, a market share for imported cars of 10.3 percent.
In money terms, the figure could be as high as 20 percent because imported cars are by and large more expensive.
If the number of vehicles sold in January is compared year-on-year, sales of domestic cars shrank 20 percent but those of imported cars grew 9 percent.
Hyundai's market share dropped slightly from 38.3 percent for the whole of last year to 37.8 percent in January. Renault Samsung's market share also dropped from 8.4 percent to 6.8 percent and GM Korea's from 9.8 percent to 8.2 percent. Kia's market share, however, rose from 33.2 percent to 33.9 percent.
A massive roll-out of midsize and compact cars with cylinder capacity of less than 2,000 cc helped imported cars grab more market share, industry insiders say. They believe a large young population who would have bought midsize domestic cars have turned to foreign cars instead.
Imported cars held a 7.2 percent market share against domestic cars in 2008, but that share fell to 5.7 percent in 2009 in the aftermath of the financial crisis, only to rise again.