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Imported car sales up 14.5 pct in May

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea jumped 14.5 percent in May from a year earlier in the highest monthly sales ever, a trade association said Friday.

A total of 13,411 units of foreign brand cars were sold in May, compared with 11,708 units from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA).

The sales figures beat the previous monthly record of 13,320 units set in April this year.

In the first five months of 2013, a total of 61,695 foreign vehicles were sold in the country, up 19.4 percent from 51,661 units a year earlier, the association said.

BMW topped the list with 2,663 units sold last month, leading Germany's dominance of the South Korean imported auto market. Mercedes-Benz followed with 1,995 units, trailed by Volkswagen with 1,952 and Audi with 1,632.

BMW was also awarded the best-selling model honor, as its 520d sedan ranked first with 768 units sold. The Toyota Camry was next with 707 units sold and the Benz E 300 came in third with 686 units sold.

Yoon Dae-sung, a senior KAIDA official, attributed the monthly sales record to aggressive promotions by foreign carmakers.

Toyota Motor Korea Co., the local unit of Toyota Motor Corp., sold 1,314 units in May, up 128 percent from 576 units in April.

The strong performance came as Toyota, taking advantage of a weak Japanese yen, cut price tags of its vehicles by about 3 million won (US$2,700).

The yen depreciated more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past six months, driven by Japan's loose monetary policy. The South Korean currency rose 9 percent against the Japanese yen in the first five months of this year.

In comparison, the combined domestic car sales of five carmakers in South Korea came in at 98,655 units in May, down 1.9 percent from a year earlier, according to data released by the five carmakers.

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