Imported car sales in South Korea jumped 21.1 percent on-year in July on strong demand for foreign car brands by consumers, a local trade association said Wednesday.
The monthly sales figure of 18,112 vehicles represents a significant gain from 14,953 units sold a year earlier, the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) said.
It is also a new monthly high, surpassing the previous record of 17,083 tallied in July.
The total is equal to 12.4 percent of the 145,431 new cars sold in the country last month. This figure includes cars sold by the five local carmakers, including Hyundai Motor Co. and Renault Samsung Motors Co., and all import brands.
"The sharp rise comes as companies successfully secured more vehicles for sale and engaged in aggressive marketing ahead of the summer vacation period that usually fuels demand for new cars," said Yoon Dae-sung, the association's executive manager.
For the first seven months of this year, sales of new foreign cars reached 112,375 units, up a solid 25.6 percent from last year.
The number is equivalent to 72 percent of the 156,497 imported cars sold for the whole of last year.
The year-to-date total also represents 11.8 percent of all cars sold in the country up till July.
German luxury brand BMW ranked No. 1, with Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Ford rounding out the top five.
Japanese carmakers Toyota and Lexus came in sixth and seventh, followed by BMW's British affiliate, the Mini, SUV maker Land Rover and Chrysler, which includes the Jeep brand.
European cars, helped by popular demand for economical diesel engines, accounted for 81.8 percent of total sales last month, followed by 10.8 percent for Japanese cars and 7.4 percent for U.S. brands.
By type of engine, 67.4 percent were diesel powertrains, with gasoline making up 29.3 percent and hybrids the remainder.
In terms of engine displacement, 55 percent of foreign cars sold were smaller than 2,000 cubic centimeters (cc), with those ranging between 2,000 cc and 3,000 cc accounting for 33.9 percent.
The Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI BlueMotion sold 906 units, making it the best seller last month, followed by the Audi A6 2.0 TDI and BMW's 520d. The midsize A6 and BMW 520d sold 681 and 550 units, respectively, in July.
KAIDA said private buyers accounted for 59.8 percent of the imported car sales, or 10,833, with the rest being bought by companies. (Yonhap)