Carmakers sold a combined 1,729 electric vehicles in the January-March period, soaring from 193 a year earlier, according to data offered by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.
South Korea's electric car market looks pale before three big automobile markets such as China, Europe and the United States in terms of size. But its pace of growth overwhelmed the major car markets in the first quarter of the year.
Hyundai Motor Co.'s Ioniq dedicated electric car was the best-selling model in the domestic market. A total of 1,291 Ioniqs were sold in the first quarter, accounting for 75 percent of all EVs sold during the period, the data showed.
The Ioniq is priced at 38.4 million-43 million won ($34,000-$38,000), depending on features, but the prices go down if the buyer receives the 14 million won government subsidy.
Currently, the central government offers a total of 140 billion won worth of subsidies for 10,000 electric cars per year, or 14 million won a car, through a lottery. Provincial governments additionally provide their own subsidies to the buyers of electric cars.
Reasonable purchasing prices and the government's increased efforts to beef up charging infrastructure are expected to further boost sales of electric vehicles.
The government plans to increase the number of rapid charging stations to 3,000 by 2020 from the current 1,300, a transport ministry official said. The number of slow chargers, which are purchased by government agencies, companies and individuals, was not immediately available.
Globally, China topped others with the sale of 44,333 electric vehicles in the first three months, up 5.2 percent from 42,131 units a year earlier. Europe ranked second with the sale of 32,627 electric cars in the first quarter, up 37.6 percent from a year earlier, and the US was the No. 3 player by posting a 40 percent on-year rise at 21,410 units, each country's industry data showed. (Yonhap)