Hyundai Exec, Korea President Tour EV Factory

Hyundai Vice Chairman Chung Eui-Sun had been billed as a key presenter at the EV Expo, but changed plans to show Korean President Park Guen-hye how the all-electric Ioniq is produced at the automaker’s Asan plant.

Vince Courtenay, Correspondent

March 18, 2016

3 Min Read
Ioniq key to Hyundai goal of 100000 EVs on Korean roads by 2020
Ioniq key to Hyundai goal of 100,000 EVs on Korean roads by 2020.

One of the biggest events at the 3rd International Electric Vehicle Expo which opened Friday on Jeju Island off the south coast of Korea actually took place hundreds of miles away at a Hyundai plant in Asan.

Though the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq was making its Korean debut at the Expo, Hyundai Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun was at the Asan plant escorting Korea President Park Guen-hye as she visited the Ioniq assembly line and heard presentations on EV technology.

Chung had been billed as a key presenter at the EV Expo, but suddenly changed plans to show the Korean president how the Ioniq is produced.

Park said during her visit that her government has a keen interest in making Korea a world leader in EV technology. She expressed confidence Korean automakers can compete globally in developing eco-friendly vehicles and autonomous vehicles. She mentioned the Google autonomous car specifically.

“I think that our automakers will not lag behind their global competitors and instead will stay ahead of them,” Park told officials.

Further, Park encouraged Chung and other Hyundai officials to push ahead on a program to develop several hydrogen-fuel-cell electric buses that would be showcased at the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held at Pyeongchang, Korea.

Park also vowed the Korean government will fully back companies involved in development of artificial intelligence, a key autonomous-car technology.

Subsidies Slice Ioniq Price in Half

On Jeju Island, meanwhile, Hyundai Vice President Kwak Jin reveals pricing for the Ioniq in Korea.

Kwak says the EV’s sticker price is 40 million-43 million won ($34,500-$37,000). With federal and local subsidies applied, the price would drop to 20 million-25 million won ($17,000-$21,500).

Hyundai will offer the Ioniq with a 10-year battery-pack warranty, he adds.

Kwak notes only 3,000 EVs were sold in Korea in 2015, but Hyundai will strive to expand the market.

Hyundai’s director of domestic marketing, Ryu Changsun, says the automaker plans to take a 50% share of the EV market in Korea. He notes the Korean government has a comprehensive plan to have 200,000 EVs on the road by 2020 and he expects Hyundai’s EVs to comprise half of them.

Kia counters its bigger affiliate at the show by displaying its Kia Soul EV and providing test rides for consumers and others.

Hyundai also provides short test rides for the Ioniq.

Both Hyundai and Kia display EV components and EV technology exhibits.

The SK Rent-A-Car arm of SK Group announces it will now offer the Ioniq, Renault Samsung SM3ZE, BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf on a rental/lease basis for up to five years. SK will absorb recharging costs during the lease period and will provide a 5-year warranty on the battery packs.

SK also announces it soon will expand its EV rental business from Jeju Island to cities on the Korean mainland.

Renault Also Announces Korea EV Play

Renault Group Vice Chairman Gilles Normand announces the automaker’s Renault Samsung subsidiary will build its first Korean EV service center on Jeju Island.

“South Korea has an ambitious electric vehicle policy and Renault Group thinks Korea will become the fifth-largest EV country in the world, so we will actively invest in the country,” Normand says. “Renault will apply the high-end technology used in the Formula-e machine to commercial EVs.”

Renault Samsung, Korea’s leading EV seller, shows off the SM3ZE and the 2-seat Twizy mini-EV.

Foreign-built EVs, including the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, also are displayed at the show.

Earlier in the week the Lotte Himart and ET Land distribution arms of the huge Lotte Group announced they were seeking shareholder approval to get into the EV-sales business and plan to sell EVs and parts at retail.

More than 140 vehicle and parts makers are participating in this year’s EV Expo, nearly double the number of exhibitors in 2015.

“Electric vehicles have been in hibernation, but now they’re waking up on Jeju Island,” Kim Dae-hwan, head of the show’s organizing committee, says in his opening speech.

“Electric vehicles are not something of the future anymore,” Won Hee-ryong, the governor of Jeju Island, says in his speech. “They have already come into our lives.

This EV Expo demonstrates the changes that have taken place and the future trends for this developing industry.”

The EV Expo runs through March 24.

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