SEOUL, May 26 (Korea Bizwire) — While sales of imported cars, led by U.S. electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model 3, have jumped, Korean-made electric vehicles (EVs) are being sidelined.
The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association and Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association reported a 40.1 percent increase in EV sales between January and April compared to the previous year, excluding low-speed EVs and large-sized commercial vehicles.
The growth of South Korea’s EV market is being led by Tesla, where sales have jumped from 236 cars in April last year to 4,075 cars this year after releasing the Model 3, a more affordable alternative to the Model S and Model X, in November last year.
Tesla’s sales account for most of this year’s imported EV sales (4,264 cars). As of April, sales of imported EVs jumped by 660 percent on year.
Tesla sold 3,941 cars, followed by 99 cars from Nissan (-60.6 percent), 53 from BMW (-3.6 percent), 23 from Mercedes-Benz, and 14 from Jaguar (-26.3 percent).
South Korean car manufacturers sold 10,161 EVs, 4.4 percent more than the previous year (9,735 cars). The Porter II Electric and Bongo III EV, light commercial vehicles released this year, have led sales.
Sales of passenger cars, however, dropped by 36.1 percent compared to last year, with only 6,221 cars sold. Last year’s record was 9,735 cars.
Considering that the South Korean motor industry is seeing a major boost following this year’s cuts in special consumption tax, the recession in the EV market, excluding Tesla, seems more evident.
Experts argue that limited demand for EVs and a lack of variety are to blame.
“Demand for EVs is limited to those open to accepting new technology,” one expert source said. “And EVs currently available in the market seem enough to quench that demand.”
Moreover, since all seven EV models available in the market come in similar sizes, the market is failing to attract new demand from other sectors.
Since most EV consumers are interested in the car’s driving range, many EVs are smaller or lighter. Hyundai Motor’s Kona and Kia Motors’ Niro, which account for 65.6 percent of all Korean-made EV sales, are small SUVs.
In the meantime, Tesla has fully infiltrated the South Korean market, and other imported brands are also transitioning from hybrid/plugin-hybrid models to electric cars.
Mercedes-Benz, after releasing the EQC400 last year, recently introduced the Vision EQS, a new concept car to the public.
The EQS is a combination of EQ, referring to an electric car, and S, endowed upon high-end models, designed to boast of the company’s high-end electric sedan.
H. M. Kang (email@example.com)