Niro EV, Benz’s EQ lineup unveiled at Jeju EV expo

By Cho Chung-un

World‘s first and only exhibition on pure EVs aims for carbon-free Jeju Island

  • Published : May 2, 2018 - 17:32
  • Updated : May 2, 2018 - 17:34

SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island -- From electrified ultra-mini cars to luxury plug-in hybrids, next-generation green vehicles gathered for a five-day expo designed to promote market growth as well as the global image of Jeju Island as a carbon-free island.

The fifth annual International Electric Vehicle Expo kicked off Wednesday at Jeju Convention Center, with more than 150 carmakers and parts and battery manufacturers participating.

Seeking to diversify expo programs, organizers opened their doors to plug-in hybrids for the first time this year, expanding the scope of the annual event to cover more than pure electric vehicles.

Visitors look around the New GLC 350 e4MATIC, the first EQ brand introduced by Mercedes-Benz Korea at the Electric Vehicle Expo held at Jeju Convention Center in Seogwipo, on Wednesday.(Yonhap)

Launched in 2014, the Jeju Electric Vehicle Expo is the first and only exhibition on zero-emission vehicles in the world, and aims to become “the Davos forum for EVs,” said Kim Dae-hwan, head of the organizing committee.

In its debut stage, German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz unveiled its latest green sport utility vehicle, the New GLC 350 e4MATIC, the first of its EQ lineup to be introduced to Korea, and also a green version of the C-class sedan.

“The New GLC 350 e4MATIC is only the beginning. We will have more than 10 all-electric and 50 electrified vehicles by 2022,” said Choi Young-hwan, marketing director for Mercedes-Benz Korea. Next year, the German carmaker will introduce several plug-in hybrids as wells as a pure electric vehicle, added Johannes Schoen, director of planning, prices and product strategy at the company, declining to comment on sales targets.

Kia Motor‘s Niro EV makes its world debut at the Electric Vehicle Expo held at Jeju Convention Center in Seogwipo, on Wednesday. Yonhap

South Korean carmaker Kia Motors unveiled the exterior design of the Niro EV for the first time, while its sister company Hyundai Motor showcased the NEXO, a fuel cell SUV.

British luxury carmaker Jaguar also joined the expo for the first time, introducing its new I-Pace and a plug-in hybrid version of its flagship Range Rover. Chinese electric car maker BYD also participated, displaying various electric vehicles designed for public use.

Not only major carmakers, small- and medium-sized companies around the world took part, presenting evolving technologies of green vehicles and seeking new business opportunities.

Semisysco, a semiconductor equipment maker, displayed an ultra-mini vehicle named D2, the first electrified two-seater. The vehicle can be charged with a 220-volt plug, the standardized type in South Korea, and will have nationwide service in partnership with Master, the Kosdaq-listed company said. The ultra-mini vehicle is available at discount chain E-mart, it added.

Lotte Rent-a-Car also signed a contract with Hyundai Motor during the event to buy 100 units of the electric Kona.

Separately, a group of auto experts from 10 Southeast Asian countries launched the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations EV Forum to promote alliances and partnerships with South Korean experts on green cars, organizers said.

The annual event also promotes Jeju Island as an ideal test bed market for electric vehicles.

Businesses and the government need to discuss the role of electric vehicles not just as green cars, but also as to drive energy independency of the island in the use of evolving technologies, said Chang Byeong-kyu, chairman of the presidential Fourth Industrial Revolution Committee at the opening ceremony.

The self-governing province plans to become a carbon-free island by 2030 with vehicles all operated by electric batteries. Jeju Island has an electric vehicle charging station for every 3.5 square kilometers, the highest density in the world, with full policy support.

The provincial government plans to expand infrastructure building, allocating 7 billion won ($6.5 million) for public charging stations this year, according to officials. Jeju Island hopes to share its experience of becoming a carbon-free island with China, said Kim of the organizing committee. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month that he hopes to turn Hainan Island into a carbon-free region.

By Cho Chung-un (