Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - BMW grabbed 25.5 percent of the nation's import automobile market in May, according to statistics provided by Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.
BMW's further growth in terms of market share is drawing wide interest now that the automaker has secured its long-standing No. 1 position in Korea with a large-scale sales volume.
"Theoretically speaking, a 10 percent growth in the monthly sales for BMW and, say, Volvo is not exactly the same. Volvo can achieve 10 percent monthly growth by selling 31 more cars while BMW needs to sell almost 10 times as many (as Volvo) for the same goal," an auto expert said.
Some vernacular reports and domestic critiques apply the "rich get richer, poor get poorer" theory to describe the bestselling German auto brand's ever-increasing monthly sales volume. Both the monthly and year-on-year sales have risen for most of the imported auto brands during May, with the exceptions of Infiniti and Cadillac.
Foreign automakers with a weak grip on the taste of Korean customers tend to struggle in the Korean auto market. Slow response to auto industry trends and old line-ups are dragging down sales, automakers said.
The dilemma is that these companies fear losing their old-faithful customers by attempting dramatic changes in their signature styles, which altogether fail to boost their sales achievement.
Struggling to spot overall directions within the Korean imported car market, Infiniti of Nissan Motors has been wavering between performance and comfort.
"Previously our customers preferred Infiniti for its strong performance, but we are trying to meet the general demand for safety and comfort. We are not completely turning in that direction, though," a spokeswoman of the Japan-based multinational automaker told The Korea Herald.
Infiniti sold just two more cars in May than in the previous month, but its year-on-year sales faced a sharp 50 percent decline from 182 cars to 91, according to KAIDA's monthly sales report. The shift in customers' demand accounts for Infiniti's weak year-on-year sales, the spokeswoman said.
"(The reason for weak year-on-year sales) is the change in market trends. As people seek economical vehicles this year, the customers' demand tends to revolve around diesel-powered cars and low-displacement products," the spokeswoman said.
To meet the customers' demand, the automaker launched the FX30d, a new diesel-powered premium SUV, in January 2012. Sales have not been so great yet, the spokeswoman said. Nissan also unveiled the 2012 Infiniti JX at the Busan International Motor Show in June, in which the company began receiving purchase orders.
Its old, unvaried product line-up is the core reason for the weak year-on-year sales of Cadillac, a spokesman of GM Korea Co., a subsidiary company of General Motors Co., told The Korea Herald. The auto brand has suffered a drop in year-on-year sales from 2.07 percent in May 2011 to 0.78 percent in the same month of 2012.
The auto maker sold seven more cars than in April.
"Our line-up centered on CTS for a long time. But we will be launching a new model, ATS, probably in the second half of 2012."
BMW, on the other hand, chose to take a distinguished path and different approach, which has become the key element in the continued expansion of its share in Korea's imported auto brand market.
The German automaker has continued with growth in sales since January. The company holds a 25.50 percent market share and has increased from 22.95 percent in year-on-year sales, selling 2,014 cars May 2011 and 2,985 in May 2012. The company predicts to sell more than 30,000 cars annually, said a spokesman for BMW Group Korea.
"Popularity among diesel-powered cars will keep up for a while. The 520d has been the all-time bestseller since January, and the 320d has been a boomer as well," he said.
A variety of line-ups from which customers can choose also contributes to the sales, Yang said. Customers will find what they like from BMW's rich line-up of cars - the three-, five- and seven-series in addition to the GT series and other groups of products - he said.
"The CEO's order is that the company needs to reinforce its infrastructure by boosting customer service and auto exhibitions. Apart from the sales, strong customer service for the already-sold products leads to second and third purchases. We also like to differentiate ourselves in marketing," Yang said.