Foreign luxury car sales in South Korea hit a record monthly high last month despite the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that dampened private consumption, industry data showed Monday.
Foreign automakers sold a combined 24,275 vehicles here in June, up 32 percent from a month earlier, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA).
The June sales topped 24,000 units for the first time since 1987 when the country began importing foreign autos. From a year earlier, the monthly sales surged 36.4 percent.
For the first six months of this year, foreign car sales amounted to 119,832 units, up 27.1 percent from the same period of last year. It accounted for 16.57 percent of the total auto market share, marking the highest in history.
The upbeat June figure came despite flagging domestic demand caused by the MERS outbreak driving consumers to refrain from entertainment and spending money. The MERS contagion increased to 186 since the first case was reported on May 20.
German carmaker BMW ranked top in terms of best-selling brand, with 5,744 vehicles sold here in June. It marked the first time that a foreign carmaker sold more than 5,000 units in the country.
The figure was trailed by Volkswagen with 4,321 units sold here and Mercedes-Benz with 4,196 units. Audi ranked fourth with 2,150 cars sold, and the U.S.-based Ford came next with 1,120 vehicles.
Volkswagen's Tiguan 2.0 TDI Bluemotion was the most popular model with 1,062 vehicles sold, beating the same company's Golf 2. 0 TDI, of which sales amounted to 1,006 units. BMW's 520d model ranked third with 863 units.
European cars were most popular, with 19,863 vehicles sold last month. The number accounted for 81.8 percent of the total, followed by Japanese brands with 10.8 percent market share and U.S. models with 7.4 percent.
Vehicles with an engine capacity of 2 liters or less were most popular, posting a 57.2 percent market share. It was trailed by cars with an engine displacement between 2-3 liters, which took up 33.7 percent.