Expo kicks off to discuss future of EVs

By Korea Herald

Hyundai unveils Ioniq “I” trim amid foreign EVs rushing into the market

  • Published : Mar 16, 2017 - 18:16
  • Updated : Mar 16, 2017 - 18:16
An annual gathering of carmakers, business leaders and experts on electric cars kicks off its six-day run in the nation’s southern resort island of Jeju on Friday, testing the future of carbon-free technology on the road.

The fourth International Electric Vehicle Expo displays and discusses the technologies of pure electric vehicles. A total of 155 companies are participating in the event that takes place at the Yeomiji Botanic Garden of Jungmun Resort in Jeju, organizers said.
Lee Kwang-guk, executive vice president of Hyundai Motor, poses with the Ioniq Electric on the eve of the International Electric Vehicle Expo that kicks off Friday at Yeomiji Botanical Garden of Jungmun Resort on Jeju Island. (Hyundai Motor)

Hoping to gain momentum through the event, Hyundai Motor unveiled an affordable version of the Ioniq Electric trim “I” to expand its presence in the EV market, which is growing at a slower-than-expected pace. The proportion of EVs around the world accounts for 0.01 percent of the total number of vehicles.

“We will consolidate Hyundai Motor’s leadership in the environment-friendly market around the world and will put in effort to further develop EVs and to expand the supply of (EVs),” said Lee Kwang-guk, executive vice president of Hyundai Motor in charge of domestic sales, on the eve of the expo’s opening.

The South Korean carmaker launched the Ioniq Electric with two trims “Q” and “N” in June last year. Hyundai sold 3,749 units last year, making up 63 percent of the market, the company added. The “I” trim is offered at 18.4 million won ($16,300) after applying financial benefits provided by the government.

Hyundai’s attempt to steal the spotlight at the event signals that there are other EVs to come. GM Korea, the Korean unit of the US carmaker, is scheduled to unveil a compact electric vehicle capable of driving a longer distance during the expo.

The expo will be the debut stage for GM Korea’s latest EV compact Bolt, while Renault Samsung, a local branch of the French automaker, plans to display the SM3 and Twizy, a battery-powered two-seater electric city car. Although it is not participating, US EV giant Tesla opened its first flagship store in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province earlier this week.

Semisysco, a local display panel maker, will also introduce Chinese EV maker Zhidou’s two-seat vehicle D2, while Daelim Motor, a local motorcycle manufacturer, will unveil the world’s first two-wheel vehicle operated by electric power.

Battery makers and electricity companies including Samsung SDI and Korea Electricity Power Corp. are also participating in the event.

To promote network building among parts makers, business representatives from China are set to sign a memorandum of understanding with their counterparts in South Korea on the sidelines of the expo.

The list includes Wang Xu, vice chairman of Beijing Automotive Group and Xiong Fei, chief engineer at Geely Automobile. William Li, the founder and chairman of NextEV, dubbed as the Chinese version of US EV giant Tesla, is set to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the expo. South Korean ministers, including Energy and Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan, will give welcome speeches.

By Cho Chung-un (