Seoul: Diesel car imports in South Korea set a new record in the fourth quarter last year despite worry that Volkswagen's emissions scandal may dent demand for foreign luxury vehicles, customs data showed on Tuesday. The country's foreign car imports reached $2.66 billion during the October-December period, up 10.2 percent from the previous three months, according to the Korea Customs Service.
The number of auto imports increased 5.9 percent from the previous quarter to 87,000 units in the fourth quarter. Diesel car imports reached $836 million for mid-sized vehicles and $867 million for large-sized ones each, setting new records for both in the fourth quarter. The record-high sales came despite concerns about emissions fabricating scandal involving German carmaker Volkswagen, which cheated on greenhouse gas emissions with software embedded in diesel models. The customs agency attributed the record sales to aggressive marketing efforts and discount sales promotions by foreign automakers. Car exports by local automakers declined 8.3 percent from a year earlier to $10.74 billion during the three-month period to December 31. The number of car exports slumped 4.3 percent to 774,000 units. Auto demand from the Middle East weakened as falling crude oil prices hit hard the oil-exporting countries.