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South Korea 1st Quarter 2015: Imports hit record levels

Chrysler 200 South Korea March 2015. Picture courtesy motorian.krThe Chrysler 200 just launched in South Korea.

* See the Top 200 models and Top 30 brands by clicking on the title *

The South Korean new car market is up 5.3% year-on-year over the First Quarter of 2015 to 399.430 registrations, but this increase has almost everything to do with a surge in imported models: domestic manufacturers improve by just 1.7% to 340.461 deliveries, foreign brands surge 32.7% to 58.969 units, now holding a 14.8% market share vs. just 11.7% a year ago. This is the result of free-trade agreements signed a couple of years ago that European countries were defiant of, fearing a surge in Korean sales in Europe. The reverse happened… In March, foreign manufacturers even reached an all-time high of 22.280 sales, up a mammoth 41.6% yoy.

Hyundai Tucson South Korea March 2015. Picture courtesy All-new Tucson should help stabilise Hyundai sales at home for the remainder of 2015.

In this context, dominant manufacturer Hyundai is losing significant market share year-on-year with sales down 3%, going from 42.4% a year ago to 38.9% in 2015 at 155.237 deliveries. Hyundai should however bottom out during the rest of the year, with the launch of the much anticipated new generation Tucson occurring in April (#2 already). Sister company holds steady market share-wise at 28.7% thanks to sales up 6% to 114.512. Ssangyong surges by 26% thanks to the success of its new compact SUV the Tivoli (#14). Mercedes tops foreign carmakers above BMW, Audi, Volkswagen and Toyota. European marques account for 80.6% of imports in South Korea in March, while Japanese brands are at 12.2% and American ones at 7.2%.

Hyundai Porter South Korea March 2015The Hyundai Porter is the best-selling nameplate at home so far in 2015.

In the models ranking, the Hyundai Porter takes the lead – a very rare event to see an LCV topping South Korean sales charts – thanks to 22,606 units above the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Morning. Both the Kia Sorento (#5) and Carnival (#8) rank inside the Top 10 thanks to their new generation, while the Hyundai Santa Fe also fares well at #7. The Ssangyong Tivoli is by far the most popular all-new nameplate over the period at #14. The Audi A6 (#21) is the best-selling foreign model, followed by the Mercedes E-Class (#23), BMW 5 Series (#30), Mercedes S-Class (#32) and VW Tiguan (#35), Golf (#36) and Passat (#37). Finally, in March we welcome the Chrysler 200 (#74), Lexus NX (#85) and Ford Mondeo (#113).

Previous post: South Korea April 2015: New Hyundai Tucson shoots up to #2

Previous March post: South Korea March 2015: Hyundai Porter and Sonata on top

One year ago: South Korea March 2014: Hyundai Porter now #1 year-to-date

Full March and Q1 2015 Top 200 models and Top 30 brands Ranking Tables below.

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