Tesla expected to hit Korean market in May

Su Jin Jang, Feb. 15, 2017, 9:57 a.m.

Major US electric car maker Tesla is expected to hit the Korean auto market this May after completing the registration process with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The ministry said Wednesday that the registration for Tesla as a manufacturer has been finalized. The company said it will begin sales from May.

Tesla first submitted for the certification in December last year. 

According to the ministry, directly-run service centers will be in charge of the vehicle’s core functions such as charging and autonomous driving, while supplementary services such as for exterior repairs will be handled by subcontractors.

Industry insiders are anticipating Tesla’s upcoming launch in Korea to be a major game-changer in the country’s rapidly expanding eco-friendly car market led by Hyundai Motor’s Kia Niro and Hyundai’s Grandeur, Sonata and Ionic hybrid models. 

Korea saw a significant boom in sales of green cars last year. Roughly 6,215 units of Korean-made hybrid cars were sold in June -- up 140 percent from the previous month.

Despite still lagging behind the Chinese, US and European markets, the domestic hybrid and electric market sold a total of 68,774 cars last year, compared to 41,956 in 2015. The increase marked the highest proportional rise worldwide.

Joining Tesla in its entry to the local auto market is Chinese EV powerhouse company BYD. It was reported that BYD has also applied for registration at Korea’s Transport Ministry.

According to the ministry, BYD is expected to receive the green light sometime next week. 

Sometimes referred to as the Tesla of China, BYD has propelled itself to the position of the world’s No. 1 EV maker, selling more than 60,000 electric vehicles last year, surpassing that of Tesla and Japanese automaker Nissan.

The company established its local corporate body, BYD Korea Co., last October. 

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