By Lee Seung-hoon and Cho Jeehyun
The electric car market in South Korea has doubled over a year with sale of electric vehicles topping 10,000 units for the first time this year.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA) and auto industry sources on Monday, the total number of electric cars sold in Korea between January and October this year reached 10,075 units. It is the first time for the number of annual electric car sales volume to exceed 100,000 units.
The spike was attributed to government’s tax reduction and subsidies for electric vehicles on top of substantial improvement in electric car’s performance and charging infrastructure.
Registered EVs that totaled 61 in 2010 surged to 1,308 units in 2014, 2,917 units in 2015, and 5,099 units in 2016, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The cumulative number of registered electric cars topped 10,000 units last year and it is expected to exceed a 20,000 mark this year.
By car model, Hyundai Motor’s Ioniq Electric sold by far the most with 6,203 units since the beginning of this year, taking up 61.6 percent of the country’s total electric car sales. The SM3 Z.E by Renault Samsung Motors, the Korean unit of French carmaker Renault S.A., came second on the list with 1,569 units and Kia Motors’ Soul EV third with 1,290 units. Following them on the list were General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt EV with 457 units, Renault Samsung’s Twizy with 259 units, BMW’s i3 with 153 units, Kia Ray EV with 38 units, Tesla’s Model S with 54 units, and Nissan’s Leaf with 47 units.
Korean electric car market is still small when compared with other major auto markets such as China and the United States but a sharp growth is expected for next year as a variety of new electric car models are scheduled to hit the local market, said industry watchers.