YANGPYEONG, South Korea, April 11 (Yonhap) -- BMW AG hopes that its remodeled compact sedan, the all-new 3 Series, will help it recover from its sluggish sales in South Korea this year, company officials said Thursday.
BMW's 3 Series, the benchmark for compact luxury sports sedans, has been one of the German carmaker's best-selling models here together with the 5 Series.
But BMW Group Korea has suffered a sharp decline in sales of BMW and Mini brand models in the wake of dozens of engine fires caused by faulty exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) coolers and pipes, mainly in the 520d model, last year.
The company sold a combined 59,715 BMW and Mini vehicles in 2018, down 14 percent from 69,186 units a year earlier.
So far this year, the slump in its sales has not shown signs of letting up.
In the January-March quarter this year, sales of the two brand models plunged 51 percent to 10,136 from 20,677 a year ago, according to data from the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA).
"The seventh-generation 320d and 330i models, the first fully refreshed models in seven years, are expected to help improve sales in Korea this year," a BMW official said during a media test-drive event held in Yangpyeong, just east of Seoul.
In its extended efforts to boost sales here, BMW said it will also introduce the M340i model, the first M performance model among the 3 series, in the Korean market later this year.
The six-cylinder gasoline model comes with a unique laser light technology that can light up 500 meters ahead and the "driving assistant plus" function that allows the car to remember the track it has driven and to reverse for up to 50 meters, BMW said.
The fully redesigned BMW 3 Series comes with a wider and sportier character, borrowing the same expressive face first pioneered in the 5 and 7 Series.
It has an entirely new body, the latest iteration of the carmaker's infotainment system and advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning.
Meanwhile, BMW is in the final stage of the recall of 171,000 BMW and Mini models to fix the faulty EGR parts. Earlier, the carmaker said it had recalled 94 percent of the affected vehicles.
BMW Group sells BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce models in Korea, Asia's fourth-biggest economy.
Unlike BMW and Mini models, luxury Rolls-Royce models' sales jumped 43 percent to 123 last year from 86 a year earlier.
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