BMW Korea launched its new 1 Series hatchback on Thursday for around W33.9 million (US$1=W1,104). The automaker, which leads the imported car market here, is apparently trying to target young consumers by offering a cheaper model in these economically straitened times.
Carmakers such as Toyota and Volkswagen have released compacts here priced from W20 million to W30 million, but this is the first time a luxury brand like BMW has released a model in a comparable price range.
The new five-door hatch is equipped with a 2000 cc diesel engine and delivers 18.7 kilometers per liter, offering the best fuel efficiency in its class. Prices range from W33.9 million to W46.8 million, depending on options. The basic model costs 27,100 euros in Germany, making it 14 percent cheaper in Korea than in its country of origin.
"We hope to attract not only consumers who want to buy an imported car for the first time, but also young people looking to buy their first car ever," said Kim Hyo-joon, CEO of BMW Korea.
"It must be BMW's marketing strategy to entice consumers with lower prices while hoping they spend more on options," said one industry insider.
Rival importers and local carmakers are also adopting new strategies to respond to changing market trends.
Mercedes-Benz and Audi plan to throw their hats in the ring by releasing models in the W30 million range next year. Volkswagen is also getting ready to unveil its Polo compact, which is smaller than the Golf, for around W20 million.