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Foreign car sales expand in March on tax cut extension

All Headlines 10:38 April 06, 2016

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- Sales of imported cars in South Korea grew 8.1 percent on-year in March, helped by the government's extended tax cuts that led to a hike in overall consumption, industry data showed Wednesday.

According to the data compiled by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, a total of 24,094 units of imported cars were registered last month. This is up from the previous year's 22,280 units.

Compared with a month earlier, March sales posted a 53.7-percent spike, the data showed.

The strong sales were driven in part by the government's move to extend an excise tax cut until June this year, a consumption boosting scheme which was supposed to end late last year.

"The tax rate reduction seems to have had some positive effect on the imported car market. Ramped-up promotion of each auto brand and an increase in the number of business days last month also played a role in driving up sales," the association said in a press release.

German carmakers continued to lead the sales growth.

Mercedes-Benz sold 5,162 cars, up 41.9 percent from a year earlier. BMW ranked second with its sales expanding 7.8 percent to 4,317 units, followed by Volkswagen and Audi, which sold 3,663 and 2,552 cars, respectively.

They were the only foreign car brands whose market shares among imported vehicles stayed above 10 percent.

European carmakers dominated the market, with their market share inching up to 80.7 percent from 80.6 percent a year earlier. Japanese car brands came next with a 12.4 percent share, while U.S. companies took up 6.9 percent.

Diesel vehicles continued to be the most popular choice for customers here, taking up 69 percent of March sales. The portion of gasoline cars stood at 26.4 percent, while all electric cars' ratio was a mere 0.1 percent.

Mercedes-Benz' E 220 BlueTEC was the best selling model with its March sales reaching 1,526 units. Volkswagen's Golf 2.0 TDI came in second, the data showed.

Meanwhile, during the first quarter of this year, cumulative sales of foreign brands declined 5 percent on-year to 55,999 units, according to the data.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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