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Mercedes-Benz becomes first foreign brand to sell over 50,000

Premium carmaker Mercedes-Benz became the first foreign carmaker to sell more than 50,000 cars within a year in South Korea, industry data showed on Wednesday.

The Korean unit of German carmaker Mercedes-Benz sold 50,718 cars in the first 11 months this year, increasing more than 20 percent from a year ago, according to data from Korea Automobile Importers and Distribution Association. 

Mercedes-Benz E 220d (Mercedes-Benz Korea)
Mercedes-Benz E 220d (Mercedes-Benz Korea)

Boosted by sales of three new E-Class sedans and sport utility vehicle models, it is set to become the best-selling foreign car brand this year, followed by BMW, which sold 42,625 units in the January-November period.

In November, Mercedes-Benz sold 5,724 units, jumping 66.3 percent from a year ago and accomplishing this year’s goal of 50,000 units set by the company’s president and CEO Dimitris Psillakis earlier in the year.

With sales of 1,330 units, Mercedes-Benz’s E 220d was the best-selling foreign model in November.

The carmaker’s performance bucked the trend of sluggish sales of imported cars last month. KAIDA data showed that 19,361 imported cars were newly registered in November, declining 15.8 percent from November 2015.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen didn’t sell any cars in November, amid a sales ban on the company’s 80 models and license cancellation for violating emissions and certification rules. The only two models the company was able to sell -- the 2.0-liter TSI and Touareg 3.0-liter TDI -- ran out of stock in October.

Audi sold 463 cars in November, dipping 87.8 percent from a year earlier also due to the emissions scandal.

Meanwhile, the Fair Trade Commission on Wednesday ordered Audi Volkswagen Korea to pay a record 37.3 billion-won ($31.9 million) fine for false advertisements on its cars to cover up its fabricated emissions results.

The company had advertised that its models met the reinforced emissions standards of Europe from 2007 to 2015, promoting its diesel-powered vehicles as energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

But the carmaker was found to have manipulated the cars’ functions to change the results before getting approved for sale.

The FTC said along with the fine, it has filed complaints against five current and former executives at the company with prosecutors.

It is the largest fine to be imposed for false advertising in Korea.

The FTC said its latest decision was not a double punishment as the Environment Ministry’s measure was in relation to certification rules violation and its decision concerns false advertisement.

By Park Ga-young (