What is in this article?:
- Generous Subsidies Generate EV Appeal in South Korea
- Renault Samsung, Kia, BMW First to Korean Market
- Nissan, Chevrolet, VW Joining EV Battle
- Korea EV Players Range From Tiny Mia to Giant VW
As EV sales mount, Korea consumers will have more choices. Virtually all of the 22 car brands imported into the country offer an electrified vehicle.
SM3 market leader Renault Samsung’s top-selling EV in Korea on small volume.
Renault Samsung, Kia, BMW First to Korean Market
Samsung, which broke the ice in October with introduction of its SM3, is the current market leader by a long shot, selling 453 or 58% of the 783 EVs sold throughout Korea in 2013. The compact sedan accounted for 67% of all EVs sold on Jeju Island last year.
CEO Francois Provost says RSM expects to take 60% of the Korean market this year, which means sales of 720 units.
Also during the Expo, Vincent Carre,Group chief of global electric vehicles, expounded on parent Renault’s considerable experience and success. He notes 40,000 Renault Z.E. (zero-emission) vehicles and 140,000 Renault- Alliance EVs have been sold since 2011, with the Renault models claiming 50% of the European EV market.
Carre lists the Renault EV range, consisting of the diminutive Twizy, ZOE city car, SM3 and Kangoo Z.E. electric van, although the automaker’s designs on the Korean market for now are limited to the SM3.
He says RSM, which manufactures the vehicle at its Busan plant, may be the source of SM3 production for all world markets.
Kia displays two of its all-new Soul EVs in Jeju as well, and potential customers stood in long lines waiting to make test drives.
Journalists who drove the Soul EV say it looks great, drives just like a regular Soul and can reach 60 mph (100 km/h) in less than 12 seconds. Top speed is 90 mph (145 kph).
The consensus among them is that with its 82-kW (109-hp) electric motor that delivers 210 lb.-ft. (285 Nm) of torque, a range of 92 miles (148 km) and fast 30-minute recharge capability the Soul EV is going to come out a champion. The sticker price in Korea is 42 million won ($39,000), but with federal and local subsidies it drops to an affordable 19 million won ($17,600). Kia says it wrote up many preorders during the Expo.
In its Jeju presentations, Kia predicts it will sell 500 units this year in Korea, after the new entry launches in April, and its 2015 sales goal is 900. The automaker is targeting 2014 global sales of about 5,000, mostly in select markets in the U.S. and Western Europe.
So Kia is planning to capture nearly 42% of the Korean sales forecast by KARI, with RSM accounting for the rest of the domestic market., however, has other plans.
The German automaker previews its i3 at Jeju, designed from the ground up as a distinctive EV, quite different in appearance from the rest of the brand’s lineup but maintaining high quality and high-end appointments.
Korea CEO Kim Hyo-joon says he expects to sell 250 i3 models in 2014 following the EV’s launch in April. That’s roughly 21% of KARI’s estimated nationwide volume of 1,200 units. But even with only 250 sales of i3s, the three automakers have their sights set on 1,470 deliveries among them, outstripping the anticipated market by more than 22%.
Kim’s forecast mostly is predicated on tight supplies of the i3. His team is confident of selling all it can import this year, including 70 to 80 units on Jeju alone.
The i3 is not for the economy-minded. Unofficial release of pricing puts it in the 64 million-69 million won ($59,000-$64,000) range. But for German car enthusiasts and aficionados who are in the vanguard of affluent trends the i3 is a must.
If purchased for use on Jeju Island it is a grand bargain. Subsidies drop the price to an affordable 41 million-46 million won ($35,000-$43,000).