South Korean import car sales expected to increase by 8% in 2013

Lee Ji-yoon/The Korea Herald
Asia News Network

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - South Korea's import car sales, led by smaller, cheaper models, are expected to continue their growth momentum next year, a business lobby for foreign carmakers here said yesterday.

The Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, or KAIDA, predicted new registrations could reach 143,000 units next year, about 8 per cent growth from this year.

The growth rate is lower than the more than 20 per cent growth of the market this year that was driven by the free trade pacts with the US and EU, consumption tax cuts and new vehicle launches.

In the first 11 months this year, the number of import vehicles sold was 120,195, up 23.7 per cent from last year's 97,158 units.

KAIDA said an additional tariff reduction on Europe-made cars and the strong Korean won enhance price competitiveness of import cars, leading to further growth in sales.

However, the global economic slowdown would affect big purchases, the group said, presenting a comparatively moderate growth rate of 8 per cent.

KAIDA said vehicles with an engine capacity of 2,000 cc or lower are enjoying popularity especially among young drivers. Diesel and hybrid cars will continue to gain positive reviews, it said.

Carmakers also will step up their offensives in the fast-growing Korean market, with individual brands diversifying import channels to lower car prices.

"Next year's sales growth would not be as high as that of this year. But the growth potential still seems sufficient as awareness toward import cars is renewed in recent years and smaller, relatively cheaper models are newly introduced," said Yoon Dae-sung, KAIDA's executive managing director.