UPDATE : 2018.9.25 TUE 18:42
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Sales of foreign cars topping 100 mln won hit record levels in 2017

Sales of foreign cars with price tags exceeding 100 million won (US$92,600) reached record high levels in 2017, industry data showed Friday.

New vehicle registration of luxury cars with the hefty retail price hit 23,821 units for the whole of last year, the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) said. This represents 10.2 percent of the 233,088 cars imported by the country.

"Last year 1 in 10 imported cars exceeded the 100 million-won mark, which represents a 21 percent hike vis-a-vis the 19,660 units tallied for the entirety of 2016," the association said.

KAIDA said the annual number represents the highest figure tallied since it started compiling such data in 2003. It said that because carmakers, such as Maserati and Ferrari, have not been counted, the actual number of the most expensive cars brought into the country should be slightly higher.

The number of cars exceeding 100 million won reached just 3,956 in 2003, with this surpassing the 10,000 mark in 2012 and rising to 22,844 in 2015.

Mercedes-Benz's new S-class luxury sedan (Yonhap)

By car model, the Mercedes-Benz S350d 4Matic was the most popular of the Uber luxury cars, with sales hitting 2,677 vehicles. The car, which sold for around 144.5 million won in the local market, was also the No. 1 seller among the most expensive luxury cars in 2016.

The S350d was followed by the Mercedes-Benz GLE350d 4Matic coupe and the BMW X6 3.0d, which sold 1,951 and 1,941 vehicles, respectively, with the Land Rover Range Rover Sports 3.0 TDV6 posting sales of 1,387 units last year.

Industry watchers said that Asia's fourth-largest economy was the third-largest market for high-end luxury import cars after China and the United States. South Korea is the world's third-largest market for S-class cars in the world, with its ranking standing at fourth place for BMW's flagship 7-series cars. (Yonhap)

Related to the strong sales figures, market watchers said many expensive import cars are being bought by corporations that get various deductions for operating company vehicles.

"Cars bought by businesses are viewed as outlays and counted as legitimate expenses," an industry insider said. He said that while revisions to the corporate tax law have been changed to make it harder for company cars to be used for personal reasons, this provision is still contributing to demand for foreign cars here.

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koreapost.com

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