Imported car sales in South Korea rose 6.2 percent on-year last month helped by new models, but Japanese brands still struggled feeling the pinch of a boycott against Japanese goods amid trade tensions between Seoul and Tokyo, industry data showed Tuesday.
The number of newly registered foreign vehicles rose to 22,101 units in October, up from 20,813 a year earlier. But Japanese vehicle sales plunged 58 percent to 1,977 from 4,756 during the same period, the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association said in a statement.
In Korea, three Japanese carmakers -- Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. -- sell their vehicles under five different marques of Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Nissan and Infiniti.
"Japanese vehicle sales have remained weak since July as consumers choose non-Japanese brands with no signs of a breakthrough in the ongoing trade tensions between the two neighboring countries," a KAIDA spokeswoman said.
As Japanese brands are attempting to revive their sales through aggressive marketing activities, sales of some brands are recovering helped by promotions, she said.
In July, Japan tightened regulations on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials crucial for the production of semiconductors and displays. In August, Japan officially removed South Korea from its list of countries given preferential treatment in trade procedures.
Japan's move is seen as a retaliatory measure against a Seoul court ruling that ordered Japanese companies to compensate South
Korean workers forced into labor during World War II.
In contrast, German carmakers, including Audi-Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, posted a 48 percent on-year jump last month.
Their combined sales jumped to 14,997 in October from 10,159 a year ago, the data said.
German brands delivered some new models -- Audi's A3 and A6 sedan; Mercedes-Benz's S350d sedan, high-performance AMG GT model and EQC 400 4MATIC SUV; and Volkswagen's Tiguan SUV -- in the Korean market last month, driving up the overall monthly sales figure, the statement said.
The three best-selling models last month were the Audi Q7 45 TFSI quattro SUV, the Mercedes-Benz E 300 sedan and the Mercedes-Benz E220d sedan. Six out of 10 imported vehicles sold in Korea last month were from Germany, it said.
From January to October, imported car sales fell 13 percent to 189,194 units from 217,868 in the year-ago period, KAIDA said.
Imported cars accounted for 15.26 percent of the domestic passenger car market in the first 10 months, down from 17.01 percent a year ago, it said. (Yonhap)