It appears that the Tesla Model 3 has become the most imported electric car in South Korea, with buyers prefering the imported vehicle over South Korean-built EVs. However, the Model 3 is doing more than just being a popular car in South Korea; it is catalyzing EV sales in the country.
The Korea Automobile Manufacturer Association, along with the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, reported a 40.1% surge in electric car sales from January to April compared to the same months a year prior. The numbers exclude low-speed EVs.
The Tesla Model 3 is leading the surge with significant growth in sales figures compared to the same period in 2019. Teslas were purchased 236 times in April 2019, but the Model 3 has contributed significantly to those figures after 4,075 total Teslas were purchased in April 2020.
Tesla is making up for the vast majority of imported electric car sales in the country as well. So far, 3,941 Teslas have been imported to South Korea this year, and the country has imported 4,264 EVs in total. Thanks to the momentum of Tesla and the Model 3 sedan, imported EV sales have jumped 660% year-over-year.
The other imports came from Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar, Korea Bizwire reports.
Experts believe that the limited demand for EVs in South Korea is to blame, along with Tesla’s overwhelming lead in technology and performance.
“Demand for EVs is limited to those open to accepting new technology, and EVs currently available in the market seem enough to quench that demand,” an industry expert said.
All of South Korea’s currently built EVs are available as sedans or small SUVs, so the market is saturated with small passenger vehicles. The country’s electric car manufacturers have yet to establish a large SUV or pickup design that will inevitably woo other customers into switching to electric forms of transportation.
Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro have accounted for 65.6% of all Korean-made EV sales, and both these vehicles are small SUVs. Nevertheless, Tesla continues to dominate the South Korean automotive market. Other highly popular import brands in Korea are transitioning from hybrid/plug-in hybrid models to electric cars.
South Korea is the fifth-largest producer of passenger vehicles in the world, according to Statista. But despite this statistic, more residents in the Asian country are being drawn toward importing sustainable electric cars from Tesla. The mass-market Model 3 is once again dominating the trends outside of the United States, just like it has in other countries before it.