BMW and Mercedes lead foray into South Korean market image

While Hyundai, Kia and the rest of the South Korean manufacturers have long mulled for global auto coverage, their once undeniable lead on the home market has begun to crumble, as foreign brands make imports highly attractive.

The fast-paced competitors, led especially by premium automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, have become common names on the sales lists in recent years in South Korea, even as the overall market has seen little changes – with deliveries usually hovering around the 1.4 million units mark each year.

“The top 10 percent of the population here has 37.7 percent of the country’s income and 1 percent owns 40 percent of the nation’s assets,” said Dae Ryun Chang, professor of marketing at the Yonsey School of Business in Seoul. “Sophisticated Korean consumers do not consider Korean auto brands and products as premium.”

In 2013, new car sales of foreign brands climbed to 11.6% of the overall local market, while back in 2000 they only accounted for 0.4%. According to forecasts, imported brands will see their market share up to 13% in 2014, while by 2016 they could reach as much as 20%. BMW, Mercedes and Audi actually made up for four out of five premium purchases in the first six months of the year, together reaching 7.2% of the overall auto sales in the South Korean market.

Via Automotive News Europe