Tesla receives permission to trade emission credits in South Korea

Credit: Tesla Asia/X

Tesla has reportedly been granted permission to sell automotive emission credits domestically in South Korea by the Ministry of Environment starting this year. This marks a significant development for the electric vehicle maker, as it will allow the company to generate additional revenue in the South Korean market.

As per a report from Korea Economy TV, it is estimated that Tesla holds about 4 million grams/km of tradable emission credits in South Korea. This could translate into a potential value of up to 200 billion won (approximately $145 million) based on current penalty rates. 

Automakers in Korea must ensure that their vehicles’ average greenhouse gas emissions are less than the country’s standard. If they exceed the amount, they must pay a fine of 50,000 won per gram/km ($36 per gram/km) or purchase emission credits from other companies. 

Tesla had been unable to participate in South Korea’s emission credit market due to regulatory limitations. When the law for emission credits trading was enacted by the country in 2011, the regulations only allowed the trading of emission credits for automakers that sell more than 4,500 vehicles per year as of 2009. Tesla did not meet this metric. 

Government officials have noted that Tesla Korea has persistently raised issues over the matter. And in 2021, domestic regulations were amended to allow Tesla to legally participate in the emission credit market. While legal clearance was achieved at the time, final approval from the Ministry of Environment was still required to initiate actual trading. This final approval was granted earlier this year.

“(The Approval of emission permits for Tesla) was a matter that required consultation with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy… The action was delayed compared to the timing of Tesla Korea’s application,” the Ministry of Environment noted. 

Tesla has been seeing some momentum in South Korea. Thanks to the Model Y, which has proven successful in the country, Tesla was able to overtake Mercedes-Benz to become the country’s second-largest vehicle importer in March 2024. As per the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, Tesla saw 6,025 vehicle registrations in March 2024 while Mercedes-Benz saw 4,197 registrations. 

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Tesla receives permission to trade emission credits in South Korea
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