Seoul, Korea ¶ There was good news last month for Korean used car markets that Hyundai Motor's Azera (called Grandeur in Korea) was named the "best residual value car" in the full-size sedan segment by Automotive Lease Guide (ALG), a U.S. automotive guide, which ranked the 2012 Azera as retaining the most value three years after purchase.
This was all the more welcome given that Korean used cars in general had been receiving lower evaluation compared with those of Germany or Japan. At stake is brand value of car makers because when a used car cannot sell it at a "fair price", the image or perception regarding the car brand can decline as well.
Positive signs of rising popularity of Korean used vehicles overseas have been confirmed in the sales figures last year; According to the Korea Used Car Export Association, Korea shipped 289,161 used cars worth $1.5 billion in 2011, up from 217,097 in 2007.
Funny things is that there are quite a number of "diamond in the rough" in Korean used car markets; still many consumers -- even Korean consumers -- aren't aware of their existence. In fact, there are automobile models that have maintained their brand names for decades in the local market, such as the Hyundai Avante, Sonata, Grandeur, and Renault-Samsung SM5.
In contrast, there are scores of brands that many consumers do not even know they existed at all. These automobile models were in many cases discontinued within a few years after launch for not enough demand.
According to CarPR (www.carpr.co.kr), the website specializing in buying and selling of used cars, owners of auto models, such as the Kia Shuma, Statesman, Carstar, Potentia, Elan, Enterprise, X-Trek, Daewoo Arcadia, Magnus, and Regal, have a hard time selling the cars because most used car buyers prefer models that they can later sell easily. But “real value” of these “not popular” used cars belies the mere sales figures in the local used car markets.
Websites, however, seem to give a shift in the used car popularity dynamics. The convenience and efficacy of turning to web sites providing relevant information seems to serve as a conduit to excavate “genuine it” items thereby facilitating increasing trade volume. SK Encar, a leading used car dealer in Korea opened the Autowini.com site in 2009 which is aimed at the business to business market and the members of the site has reached 20,000 -- in a testament to rising popularity of Korean used cars among local and international prospective customers.
According to the statistics, the biggest foreign buyer in terms of total value is Russia, followed by Jordan which is the biggest buyer in terms of the number of units, ordering 92,450 for the previous year.
Sam Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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