BMW Group Korea has grown 15% from last year despite the pursuit of its rival Mercedes-Benz, giving a green light to protect its No. 1 imported car. Although the company lost its No. 1 position in monthly sales to Mercedes-Benz several times this year, it has sold 42,653 units in accumulation until November, leading Mercedes by 600 units. With the new 7 series on the market recently, the company has started to solidify its dominance system.
BMW surpassed 40,000 units sold per year for the first time last year. This year, BMW Group, including MINI, will sell more than 50,000 units annually. After a series of fires broke out last month, domestic sales were not hit hard as they started to extinguish the fire early by issuing an apology in the name of President Kim Hyo-joon.
◆ New Year’s introduction of 7 to 8 new cars
BMW Korea, which has the largest lineup among imported car brands, aims to continue its growth next year by introducing various new cars. The new 7 series and mini-new clubman, which started selling in earnest last month, will also join the expansion of sales.
As the imported car market has grown to 240,000 units per year, interest in social contribution by each brand is also growing. BMW Korea, which leads the imported car industry, continues its most active social contribution donation activities. BMW Korea Future Foundation, a non-profit corporation launched in 2011, is a representative example.
The BMW Future Foundation is operating various programs such as ▲ Junior Campus ▲ Future Foundation Startup Competition ▲ Young Engineer Dream Project (Mentoring Support Project for Automobile Department High School Students) with the goal of social contribution centered on fostering talent. Of BMW Korea’s total 3.945 billion won in donations last year, 2.781 billion won was raised through the Future Foundation. In addition, BMW has donated a total of 87 vehicles as research vehicles to domestic universities and high schools with automobile departments as part of the industry-academic cooperation program.
This year, it signed a memorandum of understanding with Hanyang University on the operation of the “BMW Fellowship Program” and provided a development fund of 500 million won to foster future talent. In addition, the European Management Center will be established through donations of a total of 1 billion won to Yonsei University. As part of such efforts, BMW Korea President Kim Hyo-joon received this year’s “Professional Management (CEO) Grand Prize” awarded by the Korean Business History Association last month.
BMW will target the market with a full change (completely changed) model of its entry sport utility vehicle (SUV) ‘X1’ in the first half of next year. New M2 Coupe, a high-performance M series, and X4 M40i, a high-performance model of SUV X4, will also be released. Mini brands are releasing ‘New Mini Convertible’ that strengthens engine performance and increases car body.
Next year, new imported car brands will enter Korea one after another. As the number of imported cars has expanded to 20s and 30s, Japanese and European brand companies that are strong in small cars are targeting the Korean market.
According to the automobile industry on the 22nd, Japan’s fourth-largest carmaker, Mazda, has decided to do business in Korea and is seeking sales contracts with domestic dealers. Skoda, headquartered in the Czech Republic under Volkswagen Group, is also recruiting dealers at a business briefing session in Korea. Fiat Chrysler’s luxury brand Alfa Romeo is also considering entering Korea with Julia, a subcompact sedan.
Mazda, Skoda and Alfa Romeo have all shown their strengths in the compact car sector. Mazda and Skoda are known to be mid- to low-priced brands, while Alfa Romeo is known to be premium brands. As it has been verified by European consumers, it is expected to work to some extent in the Korean market.
Mazda sold 1.33 million units worldwide last year, mainly in Japan and Europe. In 2008, he tried to enter Korea in partnership with SK Networks, but gave up as the yen’s value soared. Mazda was the place where Kia Motors transferred its technology when it first produced sedans in the 1980s. Typical models include the subcompact Mazda 3, the mid-size Mazda 5 and the compact sports utility vehicle CX-5.
Skoda originally planned to start operations in Korea later this year, but postponed its Korean business until after next year due to Volkswagen’s manipulation of emissions. Volkswagen plans to sell low and medium-priced small cars in Korea through Skoda to absorb more young consumers. Skoda sold 1.04 million units worldwide last year with competitive prices and high fuel efficiency. Its main models include Volkswagen Golf and its subcompact sedan Octavia and Superb (medium sedans), which share the body.
Fiat Chrysler has been weighing the timing of AlphaRomeo’s entry into Korea for years. It is considering introducing its flagship model, Julia, for the first time in Korea. Julia is a subcompact sedan, such as Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class and BMW’s 3 Series.
An official from the imported car industry said, “As young people choose imported cars for the first time in their lives, imported car brands that have shown strength in small cars are rushing to enter Korea.”
It will also strengthen its eco-friendly car lineup in line with the growing demand for eco-friendly cars next year. It is planning to release three models, the 3 Series 330e, the X5 x Drive 40e, and the 7 Series 740e, in the second half of the year, as external rechargeable hybrid (PHEV) models. An official from BMW Korea said, “We have decided to actively explore the eco-friendly car market by strengthening our existing lineup next year.”