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France’s Mia eyes Korean market with cheaper electric vehicles

Jejudo considers policy revision to generous incentives

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Published : 2014-02-27 21:22
Updated : 2014-02-27 21:22

The full-electric Mia minibus. (Mia Electric)

Mia Electric, the France-based manufacturer of more affordable electric vehicles, has recently set up its Korean unit with the aim of starting car sales from as early as next year, industry sources said Thursday.

Before its official car launch, the company’s CEO Michele Boos is scheduled to visit Korea to showcase its flagship minibuses during the International Electric Vehicle Expo that will be held on Jejudo Island from March 15 to 21.

“The entry of Mia’s cheaper EVs will bring a paradigm shift in the nascent electric car market, and also offer a challenge to the government’s policies for offering incentives for consumers who purchase electrically powered vehicles,” said an industry source close to the matter.

He added that Korean government authorities had already started discussions on the possible reduction of cash benefits for EV purchases.

This is mostly because cars like Mia could become much less expensive than Korean-made electric vehicles.

On Jejudo Island, which offers the world’s highest EV incentives, worth 23 million won ($21,600) per vehicle the final price of the made-in-France Mia car could be lowered to less than 10 million won, cheaper than a Korean brand’s gasoline-powered mini car.

“It is true that we are reviewing our incentive policy due to Mia’s cheaper cars,” said a Jeju official on condition of anonymity. “We could expand the number of benefiting vehicles while reducing the amount per car. But for now we have no plans for any immediate changes.”

Mia’s flagship model is a full-electric three-seat minibus with a single centered driver’s seat in front. It is not a fast car ― it has a mere 16 horsepower and can run for up to 120 kilometers on a single charge ― but the price tag, coupled with an attractive aesthetic, may appeal to consumers.

Industry watchers believe Mia’s initial target will not be just small vendors and delivery people, but that a younger and hipper generation of motorists may also find the Mia appealing.

In France, the Mia model’s entry price starts from 17,500 euros ($24,000). The company’s pricing policies in Korea have yet to be announced, but it is sure to secure price competitiveness compared to pricier existing or upcoming electric models such as Renault Samsung’s SM3 Z.E., BMW’s i3 and Nissan’s Leaf, which are priced from 40 million won to 50 million won ($38,000 to $47,000) here.

Since its debut in 2010, Mia Electric has been gradually expanding its presence in the EV market. Last year, some 700 Mia cars were sold mostly in Europe.

As part of its latest efforts to expand beyond the European market, the carmaker last year signed an exclusive distribution deal with Mia Electric Asia to spur car sales in the region, and Korea, especially the resort island of Jejudo, is one of the country’s test-bed markets.

Together with the generous cash incentives, Jejudo boasts a wide charging network of and has than 400 stations across the island, more recently attracted global carmakers like BMW and Nissan. The local government also aims to replace all the 371,000 vehicles on the island with full-electric models by 2030.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)

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