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BMW, Mercedes-Benz in tight race for top importer title in Korea

BMW 2er Active Tourer (BMW Korea)
BMW 2er Active Tourer (BMW Korea)
Two German carmakers are in a tight race to take the top spot in South Korea’s imported car market this year, with BMW chasing its rival Mercedes-Benz closely to dethrone it from its seven-year run in the No. 1 position.

According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association on Thursday, BMW sold a total of 5,490 units last month, outpacing Mercedes-Benz which sold 5,456 units in the same period.

This was the third month this year after January and June that BMW has sold the most among imported car brands in the country.

BMW has sold a total of 43,042 units from January to July this year, following closely behind Mercedes-Benz, which has sold 1,611 units more than BMW with a total of 44,653 units during the same period.

This gap has been considerably reduced for BMW, which was 6,970 units behind Mercedes-Benz last year.

Some say BMW offering many more diverse models appears to have contributed to its sales growth, while others cite a supply shortage which has delayed deliveries of finished cars by Mercedes-Benz and other brands.

Taking a look into the models, Mercedes-Benz mostly sold E-Class and S-Class models, while BMW sold a fairly similar number of diverse models, such as the Series 3 and 5, X3, X5, X6 and X7.

BMW is set to release three more new models such as the 2er Active Tourer, new X7, and new 7 Series in Korea in the second half of this year.

This comes after BMW introduced the i4, new 2 Series Coupe, and the new 8 Series in Korea earlier this year.

On the other hand, Mercedes-Benz is reducing entry models sold in Korea from seven to four models and plans to concentrate on its main strategic models.

Those vying for the fourth-biggest importer spot in Korea are also in a neck-and-neck contest.

Volvo, which was close to taking away the title as the third top-selling foreign car brand in the country from Audi until April this year, fell behind -- selling 8,031 units from January to July this year, while Audi sold 10,335 units during the same period.

Volkswagen is following closely behind Volvo, selling a total of 7,543 units from January to July this year.

"How much a brand can secure a supply of semiconductors and newly launched electric vehicles is determining the sales volume of imported cars,” said an official from an imported car brand.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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