|Tesla's first mass market Model 3 sedans. (Tesla)|
Tesla, the US-based electric car maker, delivered the first 30 units of its mass market Model 3 sedans last week, with deliveries to Korean motorists expected to begin around the end of next year, the company said Tuesday.
The time frame for deliveries to Korean drivers is based on Tesla’s schedule to start deliveries of Model 3 sedans that place the steering wheel on the left side in the second half of 2018 for Korea and other markets, an official of Tesla Korea said.
Right-hand drive markets will receive their orders in 2019.
“Every country has its own set of rules and regulations, which means that we effectively must build a different car for different markets. This means international Model 3 deliveries will begin in late 2018, contingent upon regulatory approval,” Tesla posted on its official website.
The electric car giant’s first mass market car, the Model 3 has a relatively low price tag of $35,000, edging closer to Tesla’s initial goal of making affordable electric cars.
Tesla’s Chief Executive Elon Musk noted that preorders of Model 3 sedans exceeded 500,000 units during a press conference last week.
Drivers in the US that have ordered the standard version of the Model 3 that come with a driving distance of some 354 kilometers on a full charge are expected to get their hands on the electric vehicle between January and March 2018, Tesla said.
Customers who have reserved the longer-range Model 3 priced at $49,000 will receive their orders between November and January 2018.
Mass production of Model 3 sedans and the growing popularity of electric vehicles have also triggered discussions among experts and governments worldwide about implementing a mileage tax on EVs, including in the US and the UK.
The pay-per-mile charging scheme is rising as an alternative source of tax revenue to replace fuel duties, a significant source of tax revenue for most governments.
The Korean government, for instance, collected a record-high 23.7 trillion won ($21.1 billion) in fuel taxes last year, up 8.9 percent on-year from 2015, data compiled by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance showed.
An industry expert said that hurdles lie ahead in Korea when it comes to charging electric vehicle owners according to distance traveled.
“The Moon administration’s push to phase out nuclear energy will inevitably raise the cost of running EVs. It also provides large sums of tax benefits and subsidies for EV owners. So to prevent social confusion, the government will have to persuade drivers and give a heads-up that taxes on EVs will eventually rise,” said Lee Ho-guen, a professor of the department of automotive engineering at Daeduk University.
A growing number of drivers here are eyeing electric vehicles over conventional vehicles due to various benefits, such as government subsidies and low charging costs.
The government currently charges electric vehicle drivers 30 won per kilowatt, equivalent to one-tenth of the cost of regular fuel.
The Ministry of Environment also provides a 14 million won subsidy per electric vehicle purchased, while the Seoul city government supports another 5.5 million won.
By Kim Bo-gyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)