Foreign carmakers grabbed nearly 9 percent of the automobile market in Korea last month, marking the second-highest monthly share in history.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, sales of import cars came to 9,441 units in January, up 9 percent from a year earlier.
The import cars accounted for 8.92 percent of the combined sales, including made-in-Korea cars, totaling 105,889 units last month.
Their market share is the second-highest since they posted 8.96 percent last November.
Their outstanding market share is attributable to a reduction in sales of Korean-made cars. Automakers such as Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and GM Korea saw their sales down 20 percent.
“Sales of imported vehicles rose in January as new vehicle models fueled demand,” the association said in a statement.
German brands swept the best-selling brand titles, with BMW topping the list with 2,347 units sold here, followed by Mercedes-Benz with 1,330 units and Audi with 1,148 units.
By segment, vehicles with a 2.0-liter or smaller engine were the most popular, taking up 41.9 percent of the market, and cars with a 2.0-liter or bigger engine accounted for 40 percent.
European vehicles dominated the market with a combined 72.5 percent market share, followed by Japanese manufacturers with a 19.2 percent market share and U.S. automakers with 8.3 percent of the market.
Foreign carmakers are expected to capture 10 percent of Korea’s automobile market in about a year after they saw the market share surpass 1 percent for the first time in 2002.
Buoyed by active sales of smaller sedans among newcomers such as Peugeot and Honda Motor in the early 2000s, import vehicles’ combined market share continued to grow to top 5 percent in 2007.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org