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Renault Samsung seeks to sell 1,000 electric cars in S. Korea

Renault Samsung Motor Co., the local unit of French automaker Renault S.A., said Friday it plans to sell 1,000 units of its electric vehicles (EVs) in South Korea this year in a bid to become an industry leader in the country's battery-powered car market.

"The company's annual sales goal for the year of 1,000 units is about one-third of the amount that the government is looking to have people purchase this year," Park Dong-hoon, sales chief and vice president of Renault Samsung, said ahead of the opening ceremony of the International Electric Vehicle Expo on Jeju Island.

"Our ambition is to become an industry leader in the South Korean electric car market," he added.

Renault Samsung's SM3 ZE electric car is the country's No. 2 best-selling EV, having sold 309 units last year, trailing Kia Motors Corp.'s Soul EV, which sold 414 units.

As one way to help realize the sales target, Park emphasized that switching the country's taxis to such eco-friendly vehicles first and foremost will be critical to popularizing the concept here.

"The electric vehicle market in South Korea is still quite limited as the customers' decision to purchase these cars is based mostly on how much of a government subsidy is given rather than looking at the pros of the car models themselves," Park said.

"The current lack of charging stations, as well as the law restrictions of installing them near apartment buildings and similar living quarters here, are also problems that need to be dealt with in order to expand the electric vehicle market."

By supplying just 500 electric cars to the country's fleet of taxis, some 2.4 million people will be able to experience those cars each year, the Renault Samsung vice president said, adding that targeting the taxi industry first will "greatly contribute to the expansion of electric vehicles in South Korea."

The South Korean electric car market, although still relatively small, has been rapidly expanding over the past few years, as last year's sales figure of 1,183 units was a 65.5 percent increase from the 715 units sold in 2013. (Yonhap)
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