SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- Mercedes-Benz outsold local carmakers to finish fourth in domestic sales in January, industry data showed Monday.
The South Korean unit of the German automaker sold 5,796 vehicles last month, equal to 4 percent of the total 114,632 vehicles. The sum places it fourth after Hyundai Motor (31.2 percent), Kia Motors (22.8 percent) and SsangYong Motor (6.1 percent).
January sales for Mercedes-Benz Korea shrank 22.8 percent compared with the month before, but they were still higher than the monthly sales by Renault Samsung Motors (3.5 percent) and GM Korea (3.1 percent).
The last time that the German brand reached No. 4 in monthly sales was back in April last year, a ranking that followed the closure of a local assembly plant by GM Korea two months before. Mercedes-Benz defended the ranking for three months before slipping to No. 6 in May last year.
In yearly sales, Mercedes-Benz Korea sold 70,798 units for a market share of 4.5 percent last year, behind Renault Samsung (5.7 percent) and GM Korea (5.5 percent).
Industry watchers attribute the sales increase to the success of the E-class. January sales of the lineup were the 12th highest at 3,392 units, a number meaning that one E-class vehicle was sold for every three Grandeur autos from Hyundai Motor being purchased.
The E-class cars outsold Genesis, an independent brand launched by Hyundai that is pitted as its domestic rival, last year.
The "diesel gate" that pounded German brands also helped promote the E-class, which are mostly gasoline cars, according to the watchers.
"This year, BMW and Audi are scheduled to release new sedans, and a full-change Genesis G-80 is also due out soon," one industry watcher said. "This will likely affect the sales of the E-class."