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Imported car sales jump 21 pct in Aug. amid pandemic

All News 10:33 September 03, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 3 (Yonhap) -- Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea jumped 21 percent in August from a year earlier due to strong demand for German cars, an industry association said Thursday.

The number of newly registered foreign vehicles rose to 21,894 units last month from 18,122 a year earlier, the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA) said in a statement.

The three best-selling models were BMW's 520 gasoline sedan, Mercedes-Benz's A 220 sedan and BMW's 520d sedan, the statement said.

German brands -- Audi-Volkswagen Korea, BMW Group Korea and Mercedes-Benz Korea -- sold a combined 16,739 vehicles last month, up 38 percent from 12,103 a year ago. Eight out of 10 imported vehicles sold here last month were from Germany, it said.

Imported car sales jump 21 pct in Aug. amid pandemic - 1

From January to August, foreign carmakers sold 169,908 autos, up 16 percent from 146,889 in the same period of last year, KAIDA said.

In the first eight months, German vehicle sales jumped 39 percent to 113,799 units from 82,066 in the same period of last year.

But Japanese carmakers continued to struggle despite aggressive marketing over a protracted trade spat between South Korea and Japan.

Their combined sales plunged 53 percent to 13,070 units in the January-August period from 27,554 a year earlier, the statement said.

Five Japanese brands are available in the Korean passenger vehicle market -- Toyota Motor Corp. and its luxury brand Lexus, Honda Motor Co., and Nissan Motor Co. and its premium brand Infiniti.

Nissan is set to withdraw its operations from South Korea by December due to the worsening business environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last July, Japan tightened regulations on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials critical for the production of semiconductors and displays. In August, it removed South Korea from its list of countries given preferential treatment in trade procedures.

Korea views the moves as retaliation against 2018 Supreme Court rulings here ordering Japanese companies to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Imported brands accounted for 14 percent of the Korean passenger vehicle market in July, down from 15 percent a year ago. Their market share for August will be available next month, KAIDA said.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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