The market presence of imported diesel cars in South Korea has backtracked in South Korea in the face of a comeback by gasoline vehicles, industry data showed Sunday.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA), the number of newly registered diesel cars in the country reached 4,530 units in September, less than half that of gasoline vehicles -- 11,187.
In the first nine months of this year, 86,841 diesel vehicles were sold in Asia's fourth largest economy, while consumers bought 92,667 gasoline vehicles.
Diesels made up 44.1 percent of cars sold and gasoline vehicles accounted for 47 percent, the association said.
Reflecting the shift in the market, which in the past favored the high fuel economy of diesel over gas, the best selling import car last month was Audi's A3 40 TFSI gasoline sedan at 2,247 units sold, while Volkwagen's Passat 2.0 TSI gasoline's local sales hit 1,912 vehicles, making it the No. 2 car.
Gasoline-fueled vehicles stood at third through sixth on the bestselling car list in the one-month period, along with one hybrid.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which had been strong in the diesel passenger car sector here, both saw their overall sales rankings dip to third and fourth places, respectively, in September, trailing those of Audi and Volkswagen, who had actively shifted to gasoline after the dieselgate debacle.
Audi and Volkswagen sold 2,376 and 2,277 cars, respectively, last month, with BMW and Mercedes-Benz trailing at 2,052 and 1,943 units.
KAIDA said weaker demand for diesels was caused by various factors such as the numerous car fires afflicting BMWs this year and growing public concern about particulates, which have been cited for causing air pollution. In addition, continuing high demand for some popular diesel models that have seen shortfalls in supply, coupled with sharp cuts by Audii and Volkswagen for their gasoline cars, caused a shift in purchasing trends.
"Greater environmental regulation enforcement and a general trend towards gasoline models will likely lead to gasoline cars outselling diesels this year," a local import cars dealer said. (Yonhap)