SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. plans to open two showrooms just southeast of Seoul next month in a bid to brace for U.S. electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc.’s entry into the local market, industry sources said Friday.
Tesla is set to launch its first South Korean dealership in a new shopping mall in Hanam later this year in an effort to sell its globally famous electric vehicle (EV) models to local customers.
According to the sources, Hyundai is scheduled to set up the showrooms in the same shopping mall in September when the mall is dedicated — one for its Ioniq green car and the other for its luxury Genesis brands.
The Ioniq showroom will feature the Ioniq line, which includes the firm’s first pure electric vehicle built on a dedicated platform. In addition to the electric version, the Ioniq also comes as plug-in hybrid and traditional hybrid models.
The Ioniq Electric is known to be capable of traveling up to 191 kilometers on a single charge, which is better than the 100 km range of other EVs on sale here.
It will be Hyundai’s first Ioniq showroom aimed at helping the public know more about the brand and the advantages of electric vehicles. The envisioned Genesis showroom will also be the first of its kind.
Hyundai’s move is seen as a countermeasure against Tesla’s plan to open its dealership by November. Tesla is widely expected to display its EV models and begin sales as soon as the government authentication process is completed.
Tesla currently has only two luxury electric vehicle models — the Model S and the Model X — with its latest and more affordable model, the Model 3, set to be launched late next year. The Model 3 is said to have gathered some 370,000 preorders globally.
Ahead of its imminent launch in South Korea, the U.S. automaker completed the registration of its South Korean unit, Tesla Korea Ltd., with the local government late last year.
German automaker BMW, meanwhile, plans to open a showroom at the shopping mall, which will display six major models, including its plug-in hybrid sports car, BMW i8 and BMW MINI brands.
Industry watchers said major automakers are scrambling to open showrooms in the Hanam shopping mall to be operated by major South Korean retailer Shinsegae because its huge size and proximity to the capital can serve as a customer magnet.