One out of every five imported cars sold in South Korea last year was worth more than 100 million won ($83,000), data showed on Wednesday.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, a total of 65,148 foreign vehicles worth more than 100 million won were registered last year.
Despite the number of newly registered imported cars last year only accumulating to 276,146 units, which is only a 0.5 percent increase on-year, the number of imported premium cars registered increased.
Imported cars worth more than 100 million won took up to 23.5 percent of sales last year, an increase from 15.7 percent in 2020.
Sales of imported cars worth more than 150 million won increased by 75.9 percent on-year in 2021 with 19,030 units sold, up from 10,817 cars in 2020.
Looking into brands, Mercedes-Benz was the top selling premium car, with 28,815 units, followed by BMW, Porsche, Audi, and Land Rover.
Premium car sales of Mercedes-Benz last year increased by 69.5 percent compared to 2020, when it sold 17,021 premium cars.
The launch of “The New Mercedes-Benz S-Class” in April is likely to have attributed to its increased premium car sales.
The auto industry attributes this premiumization of the imported car market to increased sales of environmental friendly cars and RVs.
Last year, 36,243 imported eco-friendly cars such as EVs and hybrids were registered, showing a 218.9 percent surge on-year.
New RV registration increased by 59.6 percent to 34,907 units in 2021, up from 21,866 units in 2020.
“Imported car brands launched diverse new models last year and customers that want to have different cars compared to others bought premium imported cars, thus increasing their sales,” said Lee Hang-gu, a senior researcher at the Korea Automotive Technology Institute.
By Hong Yoo (firstname.lastname@example.org)