SEOUL, Korea, Feb 19 (Korea Bizwire) – As more people opt to buy imported cars over home-made ones, import car dealerships are opening up everywhere in the country from a narrow confines of Gangnam and other high-income neighborhoods in Seoul.
According to data provided by the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association on February 18, the number of new import cars registered last year in three districts of Seoul (Gangnam, Seocho, and Songpa) was 12,260. Although this accounts for as much as 38.6 percent of all import cars newly registered in 2013, it is down 2 percentage points from 2012.
The growth rate of new import car registration for the three Seoul districts was lower than that for the whole Seoul area (17.9%). In contrast, the 2013 growth rate relative to 2012 was highest among Seoul districts in Guro at 40.1 percent (828 cars), followed by the districts of Gwanak and Gangbuk at 35.7 and 34.4 percent, respectively. Others such as Seongdong and Eunpyeong recorded a growth rate of 31.3 and 28.0 percent.
Other non-Seoul cities and provinces also showed an upward trend in import car registration, with the average growth rate across the country rising as high as 19.6 percent. The only areas that saw a drop in registration numbers were Jeju (-67.0%) and South Gyeongsang Province (-26.0%). The area with the highest growth rate in import car registration numbers was the Sejong Special Autonomous City with the growth rate of 147.3 percent from 2012. The Metropolitan City of Incheon also saw its registration numbers rise 57.3 percent.
In response to the changing purchasing patterns, major import brands are moving away from Gangnam and toward other underserved areas. For example, BMW Korea opened last year a large dealership in Yeongdeungpo, in the southwest of Seoul, with a new showroom and service center in Anyang. Mercedes-Benz has also launched a service center in Cheongju with a new, expanded showroom while opening a new showroom in Gwangju. Other import brands such as Honda, Toyota, and Peugeot established new showrooms in Suwon, Daejeon and Andong, and Gwangju, respectively.
An import car dealer commented of the trend, “The import car market that has been focused in Seoul is expanding toward other cities away from Seoul. More and more import car dealers are increasing their presence in regional cities and car buyers are also responding positively to this, raising the import car registration numbers in these locales.”