SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea rose 1.7 percent in July from a year earlier on strong sales of German vehicles, an industry association said Wednesday.
The number of newly registered foreign vehicles rose to 19,778 units last month from 19,453 a year earlier, the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA) said in a statement.
The three bestselling models were Mercedes-Benz’s E300 4MATIC sedan, Volkswagen’s Tiguan 2.0 TDI sport utility vehicle and Mercedes-Benz’s E250 sedan, the statement said.
Imported brands accounted for 15.04 percent of South Korea’s passenger vehicle market in June, down from 15.68 percent a year ago. Their market share for July will be available in September, KAIDA said.
German brands — Audi-Volkswagen Korea, BMW Group Korea and Mercedes-Benz Korea — sold a combined 13,413 vehicles last month, up 12 percent from 12,006 a year ago.
Japanese carmakers continued to struggle despite aggressive marketing over a protracted trade spat between South Korea and Japan.
Their combined sales declined 40 percent to 1,614 units last month from 2,674 a year ago, the statement said.
Five Japanese brands are available in the Korean passenger vehicle market — Toyota Motor Corp. and its luxury brand Lexus; Honda Motor Co.; and Nissan Motor Co. and its premium brand Infiniti.
In June, Nissan announced it will withdraw its operations from South Korea by December, as it is hard to regain sustainable growth here due to the worsening business environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Japanese carmaker plans to pull the Nissan and premium Infiniti brands out of South Korea as part of its global business reorganization.
Last July, Japan tightened regulations on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials critical for the production of semiconductors and displays. In August, it removed South Korea from its list of countries given preferential treatment in trade procedures.
South Korea views the moves as retaliation against 2018 Supreme Court rulings here ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
From January to July, foreign carmakers sold a total of 148,014 autos, up 15 percent from 128,767 in the same period of last year, KAIDA said.