SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea rose 15 percent in September from a year earlier due to strong demand for German cars, an industry association said Wednesday.
The number of newly registered foreign vehicles rose to 21,839 units last month from 20,204 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 and A 220 sedan, and the Audi A6 45 TFSI sedan, the statement said.
From January to September, foreign carmakers sold 191,747 autos, up 15 percent from 167,093 in the same period of last year, KAIDA said.
In the first nine months, German brands — Audi-Volkswagen Korea, BMW Group Korea and Mercedes-Benz Korea — sold a total of 128,903 units, up 34 percent from 96,363 in the year-ago period, it said.
Seven out of 10 imported vehicles sold in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy last month were from Germany.
But Japanese brands — Toyota Motor Corp. and its luxury brand Lexus, Honda Motor Co., and Nissan Motor Co. and its premium brand Infiniti. — continued to struggle over a protracted trade spat between Seoul and Tokyo despite aggressive marketing.
Their combined sales plunged 49 percent to 14,528 units in the January-September period from 28,657 a year earlier.
Nissan is set to withdraw its operations from South Korea by December due to the worsening business environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July last year, Japan tightened regulations on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials critical for the production of semiconductors and displays.
In August 2019, it removed South Korea from its list of countries given preferential treatment in trade procedures.
Seoul views Tokyo’s moves as retaliation against 2018 Supreme Court rulings here ordering Japanese companies to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Imported brands accounted for 19 percent of the Korean passenger vehicle market in August, up from 15 percent a year ago. Their market share for September will be available next month, KAIDA said.