SEOUL: South Korea’s imports of automobiles far exceeded exports by the three local units of foreign brands through November this year, data showed Monday, reflecting the rising popularity of overseas cars in the local market.
Asia’s No. 4 economy imported US$8.74 billion worth of automobiles in the January-November period, data compiled by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) showed.
The figure outpaced combined outbound shipments worth $7.62 billion posted by GM Korea Co., Renault Samsung Motors Co., and Ssangyong Motor Co., the local arm of Indian auto conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
It marks the first time that the value of automobile imports has surpassed that of vehicles exported by the three companies. By volume, however, the three players in South Korea shipped a combined 595,000 units, far outstripping the imported models’ 284,172 units over the cited period, according to KAMA.
In 2013, the combined exports posted by the three automakers came to $10.7 billion, far outpacing the $5.5 billion of imported cars, but the gap narrowed over the previous months.
Industry watchers said the presence of overseas brands in the South Korean automobile market will continue to increase down the road on the back of their aggressive marketing in the country. South Korea’s leading players Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. shipped $16.6 billion and $14 billion worth of cars overseas over the cited period, respectively.