SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — German luxury car brands used to symbolize high social status or economic success in South Korea, but they are not premium any more. The high-end vehicles have become the mainstream in the nation’s imported car market.
The three big German automakers are expanding their presence in South Korea on the back of the popularity of luxury sedans, accounting for over six out of 10 imported car sales last month, according to data by the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).
Audi-Volkswagen Korea, BMW Group Korea and Mercedes-Benz Korea sold a combined 15,737 units here in July, accounting for 64.5 percent of the nation’s imported car market, the data showed.
Last month, Mercedes-Benz’s E250 sedan and E220d 4MATIC sedan were the top two bestselling imported models.
In terms of sales, Mercedes-Benz and BMW took third and fourth place, following the two biggest Korean automakers — Hyundai Motor Co. and its sister company Kia Corp.
Industry watchers say German cars have succeeded in winning over younger consumers with their competitive pricing strategy and strong brand power, which will pose a tougher challenge to their Korean and other foreign rivals.
“German car brands are gaining popularity from a wider consumer base not only with premium cars but also affordable models in the domestic market,” Kim Pil-soo, a professor of auto studies at Daelim College, said.
Their strong performance was in stark contrast to the struggle of Korean units of three foreign carmakers, which produce mass brands in domestic factories.
The Korean units of GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and SsangYong Motor Co. sold a combined 15,496 units in July, behind the German brands.
The foreign underdog suffered the worst sales slump since 1998 in the first half of this year in the face of toughening competition and lost production from the global chip shortage.