March 08, 2018 13:30
Sales of domestic cars declined last month amid fears of GM shutting down its plants in Korea altogether, while sales of imported cars surged.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association on Wednesday, 19,928 imported cars were sold in Korea last month, up 22.9 percent from a year earlier. It was the highest figure for February, beating the previous record from 2015. But over the same period, sales of Korea's five automakers shrank 11.9 percent to 105,432.
Mercedes-Benz sold 6,192 cars here, up 11.9 percent on-year to rank at the top among foreign carmakers. Second was BMW with 6,118 cars, up a staggering 91.1 percent. The two carmakers' combined sales beat those of their rivals GM Korea (5,804) and Renault Samsung (5,353).
Other foreign carmakers also posted double-digit sales growth, with Toyota up 66.7 percent to 1,235 cars and Jaguar 62.7 percent to 454.
GM's car sales plunged 48.3 percent amid fears that the U.S. automaker will pull out of Korea following its decision to close down its assembly plant in Gunsan.
Foreign carmakers are targeting younger consumers and introducing a wider range of financing options. Korean automakers, saddled with high wages and low productivity, are expected see sales decline further if they fail to read the changing trends of the market.
Imported passenger cars accounted for 18.5 percent of the domestic market as of February, up 4.4 percentage points from last year.
One staffer at a foreign automaker said, "Audi and Volkswagen are about to resume sales that were halted due to the emissions-rigging scandal, so imported car sales will rise even more this year."
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