German luxury carmaker BMW is highly likely to top import car sales in South Korea this year, seven years after it lost the No.1 title to its archrival Mercedes-Benz.
According to recent data from the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, BMW sold 71,713 units in the January-November period, outpacing 71,525 unit sales of Mercedes-Benz. With a month left in 2022, industry watchers say BMW is highly likely to take back the No. 1 post this year.
The two German brands are the most popular import car brands here, with their combined market share reaching almost 57 percent.
“Starting from 2020, demand for automobiles has spiked amid chip shortages and logistic disruptions,” a BMW Korea official said. “But we managed to actively communicate with the German headquarters and secured more orders for car models preferred by local drivers.”
The official stressed that SUV models including the X3 and X5 continued to resonate with a growing number of consumers here who prefer large cars with spacious interiors and sporty driving performance at the same time.
Steady sellers like the 5 and 3 Series sedans and high-performance coupes and convertibles have also gained traction, he added.
Up until November, the carmaker’s top-selling cars included the BMW 520 with 9,294 unit sales, the BMW X3 with 4,621 unit sales, and the BMW 530 with 3,999 unit sales, according to KAIDA data.
Unlike BMW, Mercedes-Benz has been largely targeting sedan-lovers, with its top three bestsellers being sedans – the E250 with 11,425 unit sales, the E350 4Matic with 9,460 unit sales, and the S400d 4Matic with 2,802 unit sales.
Since 2016, BMW has given away its top-selling position here to Mercedes-Benz. When BMW recalled more than a million diesel cars worldwide in 2018 due to an engine defect, the sales gap between the rivals came to 20,274. This gap further widened a year later to 33,942.
Last year, BMW drastically narrowed the gap by selling 65,669 cars, compared to 76,152 units sold by Mercedes-Benz.