Renault Samsung Motors Co., the local unit of French automaker Renault SA, said Monday that it is seeking to introduce its popular Twizy ultra-small electric vehicle in South Korea amid "satisfactory" progress in talks with relevant authorities for its sale here.
The Twizy is a battery-powered two-passenger electric vehicle that produces no emissions. Renault started to sell the vehicle in Paris and other global markets in 2012, but not in South Korea, as it has not met local safety and other regulations.
"We have been starting to work with relevant Korean authorities…. and the process is satisfactory," Renault Samsung CEO Francois Provost told reporters during a press conference held on the sidelines of the International Electric Vehicle Symposium.
Provost said that he expects meaningful progress "in a few weeks," possibly clearing the way for the introduction of the Twizy, an electric vehicle he sees as an effective "micro-urban mobility solution" to many customers.
In a separate press release, Renault Samsung said that it will conduct its pilot driving test during the first half of this year.
But it did not specify when its market sale will start, citing ongoing negotiations over local regulations.
Since its global debut in 2012, the Twizy has emerged as an alternative means for commuting or a secondary car for customers with its small size -- only a third the size of an ordinary passenger sedan -- along with its relatively good safety features.
The Twizy is also popular among merchants who need to deliver goods in large quantities by providing a cargo space that could be expanded up to 55 liters, the company said.
More than 15,000 units of the Twizy have been sold in Europe.
Asked whether it can be produced at a Renault Samsung plant in the southeastern port city of Busan in South Korea, Gilles Normand, a senior vice-president and chairman of the Asia-Pacific region for Renault, said that there is no such plan "at this moment" but leaves the possibility open.
"As far as the Twizy is related, if there is a request for it with volume, we can consider (production in Busan), but there is no plan at this moment," he said.
Normand, who came to South Korea to attend the symposium, said that zero emissions are what Renault is pushing for, saying hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are just "intermediary" steps toward that ultimate goal.
"We need zero emission. Zero means zero. HEVs and PHEVs are not zero emission. These are intermediary steps," he said during the press conference.
He also painted a rosy outlook for the electric vehicle market, forecasting that electric vehicles will account for about 10 percent of the global mature automobile market by 2020. (Yonhap)