SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) — Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea jumped 34 percent in March from a year earlier on robust sales of German cars, an industry association said Monday.

The number of newly registered foreign vehicles climbed to 27,297 units last month from 20,304 a year ago despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association (KAIDA) said in a statement.

The three bestselling models last month were the Mercedes-Benz E 250 sedan, Audi A6 45 TFSI sedan and Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC sedan.

 In March, German brands — Audi-Volkswagen Korea, BMW Group Korea and Mercedes-Benz Korea — sold a combined 18,954 units, up 46 percent from 12,958 the previous year. German cars accounted for seven out of 10 imported vehicles sold in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy last month, according to the association.

This file photo taken Oct. 13, 2020, and provided by Mercedes-Benz Korea shows the upgraded E-Class sedan. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Japanese carmakers — Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and its independent brand Lexus — reported improved sales last month after struggling with weak sales in recent months due to a protracted trade dispute between Seoul and Tokyo.

Their sales rose 24 percent to 1,737 units in March from 1,406 a year earlier.

From January to March, imported carmakers sold a total of 71,908 autos, up 32 percent from 54,669 units in the same period of last year.

German brands saw their sales soar 50 percent to 51,232 units from 34,093 during the same period, while Japanese carmakers’ sales fell 6.7 percent to 4,083 units from 4,377.

Imported brands accounted for 21.08 percent of the Korean passenger vehicle market in February, up from 20.25 percent a year ago. Their market share for March will be available next month, KAIDA said.