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Luxury car Tuning

In recent years, Seoul has seen a sudden rise in luxurious vehicles on its roads, parking lots and even narrow streets, with many foreign car brands gaining popularity.

Although those premium cars equipped with astonishing design and excellent performance are compelling enough for some owners, car maniacs and some customers want more.

Tuned-up cars in front of BRABUS Korea‘s Studio (BRABUS Korea)

“Many Korean foreign car owners want more than just driving a car, ” said Yoon Dong-Joo, sales director at BRABUS Korea, a German tuner famous for modifying Mercedes-Benz cars.

“They want to modify the original in order to maximize their satisfaction with their overall driving experience.”

The driving force that leads these car owners to tune their already-extravagant vehicles is their desire to stand out. “Our customers spend thousands of dollars on tune-ups because they want their cars to be uniquely customized, ” Yoon said.

The kinds of tune-ups done at BRABUS Korea range from altering exterior and interior designs to maximizing the car’s performance by increasing horsepower. “We can change every bit of the original car from the chassis to the wheels, from the interior to the engine, ” he further emphasized.

Tune-ups at BRABUS Korea do not come cheap. Wheel changes, generally considered a minor tune-up, are priced around 20 million won ($16, 750). Regardless of the high costs, the firm has seen a significant increase in profit in recent years. About 100 to 150 customers line up for BRABUS tune-ups each year.

The company has achieved double-digit growth over the past few years. Its sales growth rate has fluctuated between 50 and 100 percent.

The tuning market, however, is still in its infancy compared to that of car-crazy countries such as Japan, the U.S. or European countries, which means there is a lot of potential.

Demand for car customization is not limited to the high-end market. The tuning market also has a less-expensive sector. Ahn Chi-hoon, a 40-year-old worker at a software company, has been enjoying tuning his car for more than a decade. He cultivated the interest by making a mock-up car model out of clay as an industrial design pupil at university, which later developed into a legitimate lifestyle.

“Car tuning is a way to get satisfaction from maximizing the car’s potential, ” Ahn said. His interests in car tuning further grew as he participated in a drag race for Top Gear Korea in February 2015 with his used Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR.

Ahn Chi-hoon’s tuned Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR (Ahn Chi-hoon)

“I think that it’s still worth spending money on tuning a used car and get what you want rather than buying a new car that fails to reach its full capacity, ” Ahn stressed. He spent about $10, 000 on changing the car’s audio system, intake valves, air exhaust system, suspension and intercooler and replacing some of the exterior for carbon parts.

“The tuning market is growing, but we need the government to modify its restrictive regulations on tune-ups, and set a clear vision so that it can flourish, ” Ahn said.

“The market will significantly benefit from investment and sponsorship of major carmakers like Hyundai in the local racing championships.”

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