The Seoul Motor Show taking place this week sees tastes changing focus in a rapidly developing environment, after years of reliance on beautiful women to attract attention on the utterly expensive imported models.
The South Korean marketing models even coined a term for the young women that were usually “deployed” in tight thigh-high dresses next to glamorous new launches – they were called “racing models” – linking them with their automotive counterparts especially in terms of exclusivity. “We don’t need them,” comments now an executive with BMW Korea. “We’re just focusing on cars.” The tough Korean market, which has seen little penetration from imported brands until a few years back when new trading agreements opened up the market, sees fierce competition (in the luxury segment) from two of the usual suspects – BMW and Mercedes. The largest premium automaker in the world, BMW, managed to deliver in 2014 a total of 40,174 vehicles in Korea, jumping 21.5 percent from the year ago levels. Mercedes-Benz was a distant second, with 35,213 units – though it was rising faster, with sales soaring 42.1 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, the latter took the reign after the first two months of the year, with deliveries sitting at 7,422 to BMW’s 6,012 cars.
If you take into account overall figures, then VW AG places first among foreign importers, thanks to its namesake brand, Audi luxury maker and Porsche premium sports car brand. In 2014 the VW brand grew sales by almost 20 percent to 30,719 autos; Audi delivered 27,647 vehicles, jumping 37.9 percent and Porsche tallied 2,568 units, an increase of 25.8 percent over 2013 level. Let’s not forget the ultra-luxury Bentley marquee, which at 322 models delivered, had an ascension rate of 96.3 percent.