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Luxury Imported Cars Taking Korean Market by Storm

Posted August. 01, 2010 08:11,   


Luxury imported cars costing 100 million won (84,000 U.S. dollars) or more each are seeing brisk sales in the Korean market.

All 300 units of the latest model of the luxury Porsche SUV Cayenne allotted to Korea sold out in less than a month after debuting June 12.

The model has a sticker price ranging from 87 million (73,400 dollars) to 158 million won (133,000 dollars). If options preferred by Korean motorists are added, even the cheapest trim of the car costs 99.9 million won (84,300 dollars).

Sales of the newest XJ, the flagship model of Jaguar introduced in the Korean market July 12, are also hot. The 5.0-liter super charger car costs 208.4 million won (176,000 dollars), while the cheapest 3.0-liter diesel edition goes for 129.9 million won (109,700 dollars). All of the models allocated to the Korean market, however, have been sold out through advance orders.

Bentley Korea introduced July 7 its Continental Series 51 with 560 break horsepower, 12 cylinders and a 6.0-liter twin turbo engine in Korea. All three models of the vehicle sold out in Korea in less than a month.

The price varies according to options, but one unit generally costs about 300 million won (253,000 dollars).

The Rolls-Royce Ghost went on the Korean market early this year and all 12 units sold out around April. The cheapest model costs 430 million won (363,000 dollars).

Kolon Glotech, which imports the Ghost, set 12 units as this year’s sales target but ran out before the end of the year’s first half.

In the import vehicle market, more than 1,000 BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles are being sold per month, putting these brands under the category of “general luxury brands.” Porsches, Bentleys and Rolls-Royces, which have a limited supply in Korea and cost more, are classified as “rich premium brands.”

A source at Jaguar’s dealership in Seoul’s Yongsan district said, “People who don’t want to ride the same vehicle models as others come to our showroom,” adding, “Our major clients include CEOs of small and medium-size companies, professionals, celebrities and highly-paid pro athletes.”

Experts on the import vehicle industry say a phenomenon in which demand outpaces supply in the market for rich premium brands results from a social environment where people can buy expensive foreign cars without feeling any social burden, as import cars have become common.

Yoon Dae-seong, executive director at the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, said, “There was a consumer group who could afford to buy import vehicles costing 100 million won (84,400 dollars) or more per unit in Korea, but they often didn’t buy expensive import cars due to fears over public criticism.”

“With more buying expensive imported cars such as Mercedes and BMW, a growing number of people are now buying even pricier vehicles without caring about other people’s opinions.”