SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – The repercussions of the economic downturn have reverberated in the imported electric vehicle market, drawing attention to the widening wealth gap often described as “The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.”
While sales of domestic electric vehicles (EVs) have been lackluster this year, there has been a notable surge in the demand for high-end imported EVs priced over 100 million Korean won. It’s worth noting that, in Korea, EVs with an ex-factory price exceeding 85 million won do not qualify for government subsidies.
This scenario highlights a pattern where consumers who possess the financial means to purchase EVs are doing so, regardless of price, brand, model, or quality considerations.
This trend has propelled the Tesla Model Y, considered a cost-effective EV due to its Chinese lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery, to the top spot among imported cars last month, with 4,206 units sold—a remarkable 120.2 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
In the first nine months of this year, South Korea saw 117,611 new electric vehicles registered, marking a 1.9 percent decline compared to the same period last year, as reported by the Carisyou Data Research Institute, a reputable auto market research firm.
This slowdown in sales stands in stark contrast to the previous year when 164,482 EVs were registered, representing a remarkable growth rate of 63.8 percent.
Challenges such as inadequate charging infrastructure, concerns about battery fires, and limited government incentives are often cited as reasons for the reluctance of domestic consumers to embrace EVs. However, the market for expensive imported EVs tells a different story.
According to the Korea Association of Imported Motor Vehicles (KAIDA), sales of imported EVs (not including Tesla) priced above 100 million won reached 5,883 units in the first nine months of this year—an impressive 95.5 percent increase from the same period in the previous year (3,900 units).
These sales now account for 32 percent of the total imported EV market, totaling 18,423 units.
Leading the pack in this segment are brands like Mercedes-Benz (3,486 units), Porsche (1,167 units), BMW (987 units), and Audi (243 units). Notable models include the Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 and EQS 580 SUVs, the Porsche Taycan, and the BMW iX.
Moreover, the shift toward EVs in response to the decarbonization trend, particularly by companies and institutions replacing their corporate vehicle fleets, has further boosted the sales of high-end imported EVs.
Kevin Lee (email@example.com)