Thursday, April 6, 2006

Imported car sales jump 54.8% in March

The Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association said today that sales of imported cars in South Korea jumped 54.8 per cent from a year ago.

The 3,629 units sold last month is an increase of 34.9 from a month earlier (but to be fair, February is a short month). The huge increase is said to have been driven by aggressive marketing efforts by imported car sellers.

Foreign car ownership is becoming mainstream, as prices come down enough for more and more middle-class consumers to consider them, while at the same time, the perceived stigma* associated with driving something other than a Korean car is quickly eroding.

But like with most things, anti-Japanese sentiment may be the real story behind the numbers.

* When the economic crisis (the inappropriately and inflammatorily christened "IMF crisis") erupted in late 1997, one network did an "exposé" on which celebrities owned foreign automobiles. Not a few of those celebrities sold off their cars in order to regain public confidence.

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