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.
Korea EV Players Range From Tiny Mia to Giant VW
As EV sales mount in Korea, the arena will expand. Virtually all of the 22 import car brands offer an EV in other markets.
WardsAuto has learnedKorea, the country’s No.3 importer by sales, will launch sales of its E-Up microcar and all-new EGolf beginning in 2015.
The E-Up already has a strong track record in Europe. Powered by a 60-kW (79-hp) electric motor that produces 155 lb.-ft. (210 Nm) of torque from a full stop, it can hit 81 mph (130 km/h) and has a 100-mile (160-km) range. In European markets it sells for €27,000 ($37,000). Pricing for Korea has not yet been set, but if sold on Jeju next year, and the European pricing is a reliable barometer, the E-Up’s cost would drop to about 17 million won ($16,000).
The E-Golf, which launched sales in Europe in February, is the all-electric version of the globally popular Golf. It is powered by an 85-kW (115-hp) electric motor that produces 199 lb.-ft. (270 Nm) of torque. It can hit 62 mph (100 km/h) in 10.4 seconds. In Europe the E-Golf is priced at €35,000 ($48,000). Again using the European price as a marker, its cost on Jeju would be about 29 million won ($27,000).
One French manufacturer, Mia Electric, has caught the imagination of many Korean reporters and young consumers with its economy-priced electric minivans pitched at the Jeju Expo.
One big feature is affordability. It’s available for as low as €17,500 ($24,000) in European markets; if similar pricing prevailed on Jeju it could be had for a mere 3.23 million won ($3,000) after the 23 million won ($21,000) subsidy was subtracted from the retail price.
The driver sits alone at the center of the vehicle center with one of three configurations behind him: open cargo space, three seats or four seats.
Depending on model, it has a 12-kW (16-hp) electric motor powered by either an 8-kW or 12-kW lithium-ion-phosphate battery pack. The 8-kW pack has a range of 50 miles (80 km) and the 12-kW unit carries it 75 miles (120 km).
CEO Michael Boos says he wants to produce the minibus in Korea, as opposed to importing it from France. A local operation, Mia Electric Korea, was established in February. But reportedly the company, 88% owned by Asian consortium Focus Asia, is in financial difficulty.
There has been much negative conjecture about-Kia Motor Group implying Hyundai has dragged its feet in EV development and will be pummeled by rival automakers as it tries to catch up.
Critics notewas a no-show at the Jeju Expo. However, analysts note the Korean teaser introduction of the Kia Soul EV took place March 11 at the Hyundai Motor Group Research and Development Center in Namyang, just ahead of the Jeju show.
The Soul EV is not simply a battery-electric drivetrain cobbled to a production Soul body. The precise engineering development, shared by the SK Innovation battery-pack specialists over the course of three years, has resulted in an EV with every significant component and system developed in-house.
Namyang avoids redundant technologies, instead developing advanced technologies applicable to both the Hyundai and Kia brands. Thus, Hyundai has instant access to every bit of EV technology and all of the testing data that went into development of what appears to be the well-executed Soul EV.
Hyundai also will benefit from the Soul EV’s initial marketing experience in both Korea and select markets in the U.S. and Europe.
Some analysts believe Hyundai, already at work on its own dedicated battery-electric vehicle for release in 2016, will take the route followed by the Leaf and i3 and develop a model that’s new from the ground up.
Whichever way Hyundai goes, it will create an EV that can be produced anywhere in the world through the automaker’s immense production network, notably in China. That country has begun offering generous EV incentives to combat the world’s worst urban smog.
The spring of 2014 may be seeing the global EV market bloom further on Korea’s exotic Jeju Island.