SEOUL, Jun. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — A range of ultra-small electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to hit the South Korean market amid growing consumer interest in eco-friendly cars that can be bought cheap with state subsidies, industry sources said Wednesday.
Renault Samsung Motors Corp., the South Korean unit of French carmaker Renault S.A., and local smaller players are set to tap into the market for battery-powered micro EVs that have emerged as a new means of urban transport.
Renault Samsung is the first to enter the market as it plans to unveil the Twizy ultra-small EV in the second half of this year.
The Twizy, a one- or two-seat electric city car, produces no emissions and can travel up to 55 kilometers on a single charge with its maximum speed reaching 80 km. It can be fully charged in three hours and 30 minutes.
The vehicle carries a price tag of 15.5 million won, but it can be purchased for some 5 million won, given government subsidies.
The Twizy has been gaining popularity in foreign markets with its cumulative shipments reaching approximately 20,000 units.
Renault Samsung has fulfilled its presale order target of 1,000 units here and is considering bringing in an additional 500 units to meet the high demand, the company said.
Armed with their own technology and know-how, South Korean small startups are also set to throw their hat in the ring.
EV maker Saean has recently unveiled the WID-U, a one-seat, three-wheeled electric scooter that can travel up to 100 km on a single charge. Excluding government subsidies, its price starts at 6.5 million won.
Saean plans to release a four-wheeled ultra-small EV, the WID, during the first half of next year.
Daechang Motors, a maker of golf carts, is slated to unveil the two-seat Danigo micro EV in August. The company has established a production line in the southeastern city of Daegu with financial support from the municipal government.
Two other local companies — semiconductor equipment maker Semisysco and camera module manufacturer Cammsys — are also set to enter the market by unveiling ultra-small EV models in 2017 or next year, according to the sources.
Experts said the market for micro EVs has huge growth potential.
“The era of ultra-small EVs has already opened in South Korea, with domestic demand likely to rise sharply down the road,” Lee Hang-ku, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade. “The potential for their exports to emerging markets is enormous.”