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Tesla entering the Korean market

Posted March. 15, 2017 07:09,   

Updated March. 15, 2017 07:15


Shinsegae Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin is the first who bought Tesla car in Korea. Chung purchased the Tesla S, one of the models in Tesla’s sport car line-up, in the U.S. in 2013. He installed his own charging station and drove the car for about 900 kilometers. However, he sold his Tesla S just in two months due to insufficient charging infrastructure in Korea and too much attention being paid from the public as the first owner of Tesla car in Korea. Chung’s interest in electric vehicles has remained unscathed, however. Chung has equipped 100 E-Mart stores with charging stations and will open Korea’s first Tesla store at Starfield Hanam.

Tesla has unveiled its first store in Korea at Starfield Hanam on Wednesday. Tesla only sells its cars through direct retail shops or online store without any marketing or promotion. It has been told that Tesla sold about 1,000 units already before its official launch in Korea in June. The number of test-drive requests in Korea tops any other countries where Tesla is operating its stores. The Tesla S90D will be sold at a price higher than 120 million won (104,000 U.S. dollars), and government incentives will not be assisted. Against this backdrop, Tesla is still creating quite a buzz in Korea, making us realize how much Koreans want to become early adopters.

One of the most famous local electric vehicles is Hyundai Motor’s Ioniq. On a global scale, however, the electric vehicle sector has transformed significantly after Tesla made its inroads into the EV market. The soaring popularity of Tesla’s electric vehicles can be attributable to longer driving distance on a single charge, reasonable price, and enhanced driving performance similar to sport cars. In China, unexpectedly, Tesla is attracting Chinese customers with its self-defense feature against biochemical weapon. However, the most distinctive feature is the interface between Tesla and built-in software. Similar to operating systems of smart phones, the software can upgrade or enhance Tesla cars’ performance or functions. This is the reason why Tesla cars are called “smart phone on a wheel” or “Apple in the EV sector.” This possible paradigm-shift by Tesla reminds the public of the launch of the iPhone by Apple, and this is where we must pay much attention to.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is known as the real life Tony Stark from the movie Iron Man. Musk, who became a billionaire with his online payment system PayPal, has also expanded his business into Tesla for electric vehicle, SpaceX for launch pad and SolarCity for renewable energy. He aims to integrate rocket, automotive and energy businesses all into his portfolio. In addition, he plans to build a fully connected car, which is completely autonomous and equipped with augmented reality display and wearable features. His innovative vision draws a stark contrast to domestic automotive companies with complacent attitude.