Sales of imported light vehicles in South Korea fell by 13.7% to 18,198 units in January compared with 21,075 units in the same month of the previous year, according to data compiled by Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA).
The fall contrasts sharply with the 4.5% rise in domestic sales to 117,464 units last month, which was mainly driven higher by a strong performance by Hyundai following the recent release of new SUV models into the market.
Mercedes-Benz was by far the largest light vehicle importer last month, despite a 23% drop in light vehicle sales to 5,796 units. This was higher than the domestic sales of local manufacturers GM Korea and Renault-Samsung, putting the German brand in fourth position in the overall market behind only Hyundai, Kia and Ssangyong.
BMW's sales fell by almost 50% to 2,756 units, reflecting damage incurred to the brand's image following last year's recall of over 100,000 cars in response to more than 40 incidents of engine fires in its diesel models.
Toyota-Lexus' sales increased by more than 18% to 2,560 units, helped by strong demand for hybrid vehicles in the country, while VW-Audi's recent return to the market following the diesel emission cover-up scandal saw its sales rise by more than five-fold to 1,104 units combined.
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