LOS ANGELES ― California-based Tesla Motors appeared to have no plans or interest in entering the Korean market over the short term.
“We don’t have business in Korea, and we don’t have plans to launch for a while,” said Atsuko Doi, a communications officer for the electric carmaker’s Asian operations.
Doi added that Tesla also has no comments on how it may perform in Korea in the foreseeable future, saying the company was “totally in full capacity for launched countries.”
|Customers check out a Model S sedan at Tesla Century City, a showroom in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. (Lee Ji-yoon/The Korea Herald)|
The Japanese representative was politely stating that Tesla is too busy coping with current customers to consider commitment in Korea where carmakers, customers and the government alike are less than enthusiastic on electric cars.
Tesla, which has stores and service centers in Japan and Hong Kong, had previously weighed entering Korea, but reportedly decided against it. China, in the meantime, is expected to be added to its list.
Industry watchers note that it’s a shame for Korea, as Tesla cars are considered among the trendiest electric vehicles. This year alone, Tesla is poised to churn out some 21,000 cars, while in 2014, the number is predicted to exceed 30,000 as the carmaker has reportedly received more than $40 million worth of reservations for its up-and-coming Model X.
Koreans are still lukewarm on these vehicles of the future, despite recent improvements in government subsidies. A lack of infrastructure such as charging stations, combined with low interest from the nation’s dominant carmaker Hyundai Motor are all a part of the cause: Hyundai’s has an under 5 percent market share in the global eco-friendly vehicle industry, according to the Korea Automotive Research Institute.
Hyundai’s domestic rivals, such as Renault Samsung and GM are more active in hybrid and electric car development, mainly on headquarters’ orders.
Hyundai, however, does appear to be keen on selling more of its fuel cell-powered vehicle, the iX35. Starting from 150 million won a piece, they sold just over a dozen in Europe during the first half of this year.
Japanese carmakers, on the other hand, have shot past their Korean rivals, with Toyota selling more than 3 million Prius vehicles worldwide as of June. Nissan this year saw the sales of its electric hatchback Leaf soar in the U.S. by more than 300 percent since March when it launched the 2013 model.
By Kim Ji-hyun and Lee Ji-yoon