The growth in sales of imported cars is slowing markedly in Seoul's affluent Gangnam but increasing in other parts of the capital.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association on Sunday, 10,926 imported cars were newly registered in the Gangnam, Seocho and Songpa districts of southern Seoul last year, up 11 percent compared to 2011. In Gangnam district itself, new registrations of foreign cars rose only 2 percent.
Of all newly registered foreign cars in Seoul, those registered in the three affluent districts accounted for 41 percent last year, gradually falling from 48 percent in 2010.
In contrast, Geumcheon in southwestern Seoul saw a 71 percent increase in new registrations of imported cars, up from 194 in 2011 to 332 last year, while Seodaemun and Dongjak also saw marked increases of 55 percent and 54 percent.
Sales also rose in double digits in Guro (47 percent), Gangbuk (45 percent), Jungnang (43 percent) and Dobong (40 percent).
Car importers say the increase in sales of foreign cars, which are more expensive than Korean ones, suggests growing awareness that cars featuring Mercedes, BMW or Volkswagen badges are no longer exclusively reserved for the ultra rich.
"The customer base is expanding beyond the wealthy residents of a select area," said Yoon Dae-sung at KAIDA.