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Imported car sales plunge in March on halted VW car sales

All Headlines 11:32 April 06, 2017

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea fell 8.4 percent in March from a year earlier as the government's sales ban on Audi and Volkswagen cars continues following the German carmaker's emissions scandal, industry data showed Thursday.

The number of newly registered foreign cars fell to 22,080 in March from 24,094 a year earlier, the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) said in a statement.

In July, Seoul announced it will ban the sale of almost all Audi and Volkswagen cars while imposing heavy fines on the German carmaker as it admitted last year of having falsified U.S. emissions tests in some of its diesel-powered cars.

On July 25, Volkswagen Group, which sells passenger cars under marques, such as Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porshe and Volkswagen, voluntarily stopped selling its vehicles in South Korea.

The share of imported vehicles in the domestic passenger car market also fell to 15.4 percent in March from 16.25 percent a year earlier, a KAIDA spokeswoman said.

"The declines in sales and market share were largely due to the eight-month-long sales ban on the two German brands," she said.

This file photo taken on July 24, 2016, shows a Volkswagen dealership in southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

The top three best-selling models were Mercedes-Benz's two E-Class models -- E220d and E300 -- and BMW's 520d last month, the statement said.

German vehicles were still popular with South Korean customers despite the emissions scandal.

As local customers opted to buy other German brands instead of Audi and Volkswagen vehicles, 8 out of 10 imported cars sold here in March were from Germany, the data showed.

In the January-March period, imported car sales fell 1.8 percent to 54,966 units from 55,999 in the same period last year, it said.

Last year, imported carmakers sold 225,279 units, down 7.6 percent from 243,900 a year earlier following the sales ban.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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