Models showcase the new Peugeot 508 GT, one of the French carmaker’s best-selling models, in Seoul. Korea was the first Asian country to launch the premium sedan. (Hanbul Motors Corp.)
Hanbul Motors CEO predicts eco-friendly technology to determine fate of automakers
The world’s first diesel-electric hybrid vehicle, developed by Peugeot and currently on sale in Europe, will likely be imported into the Korean market next year.
Hanbul Motors Corp., the official importer and distributor of vehicles of France-based PSA Peugeot-Citroen, plans to launch the diesel-electric hybrid version of its 3008 crossover hatchback here.
The Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 has been gaining popularity in the European market since its launch by Europe’s second biggest automaker earlier this year.
“We are considering introducing the 3008 HYbrid4 model next year,” Hanbul Motors president & CEO Song Seung-chul said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
Song predicted the model would create a sensation in the market, saying that it has the world’s first high fuel efficiency, eco-friendly but powerful driving performance.
The CEO stressed that eco-friendly technology would soon determine carmakers’ fate in the Korean and global markets.
“Starting with France, European countries are levying taxes on automobiles in proportion to carbon dioxide emissions,” he said.
“The kind of taxation policy will also be applied to Korea in the near future.”
He said Peugeot, based on high-end environmentally-friendly technology, is aiming to become a pioneer in the Korean market, adding that it would be a key business direction of Hanbul Motors in 2012.
Last June, Peugeot sold 317 units, the highest monthly sales since Hanbul Motors started full-scale operations in 2003.
The carmaker reported 99 percent growth in sales on a year-on-year basis. Its sales in June 2010 stood at 159 units.
“In Korea, Peugeot has been launching competitive models including the New 508,” he said. “As the flagship sedan with great fuel efficiency of 22.6 kilometers per liter, it accounts for 43 percent of our total sales.”
Hanbul Motors president Song Seung-chul
For next year, Peugeot and Hanbul Motors have set the goal of 35 percent growth compared to 2011 with sales of 3,500 units, he said.
Aside from the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, the Korean distributor is poised to introduce the Peugeot 5008, a multi-purpose vehicle, in the local market in 2012.
Song forecast that demand for MPV models like the 5008 in Korea will surge in the coming years as the portion of households engaging in leisure and outdoor sports on weekends has been increasing.
“Our customers pick HDi, better known as Peugeot’s next-generation diesel engine which guarantees excellent fuel efficiency, as a main factor for their purchasing.”
He said customers were also fascinated by Peugeot’s unique exterior designs based on the French esthetic and the cars’ performances in cornering and handling
“On the contrary, customers say it is necessary for Peugeot to improve interior designs to be eye-catching.”
Six years ago, Hanbul Motors unveiled the first diesel passenger car in the Korean market.
The fuel-efficient and environment-friendly diesel engine version of Peugeot’s 407 midsize sedan and wagon followed the popular gasoline 407 models.
Diesel cars were common as recreational vehicles, but it was the first diesel passenger car to be sold in Korea.
CEO Song began his career in import car sales and marketing in 1986 by joining Kolon’s automobile division, sold BMW and Saab cars, and has served as the chief executive of Hanbul Motors since 2002.
He also served as the fifth and sixth chairman of the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association.
He was highly appraised for increasing the public’s recognition of foreign cars and overseeing successful events such as the 2005 Seoul Motor Show and the import car test-drive event.
Meanwhile, Hanbul Motors has been in talks with PSA Peugeot-Citroen to introduce Citroen models here.
The Citroen vehicles are projected to tap the Korean market during the first half of next year, according to Hanbul Motors spokespeople.
Concerning the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement, which took effect on July 1, CEO Song said, “I think the pact will be more positive in terms of diversification of import models, rather than in terms of cheaper prices.”
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org