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Annual EV expo in Jeju kicks off; aims to add UAMs next year

Visitors at the International Electric Vehicle Expo look at Tesla vehicles on display at the Jeju Convention Center on Jeju Island on Tuesday. (IEVE)
Visitors at the International Electric Vehicle Expo look at Tesla vehicles on display at the Jeju Convention Center on Jeju Island on Tuesday. (IEVE)
SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island -- The International Electric Vehicle Expo, an annual exhibition of green cars, kicked off Tuesday for its ninth run bringing around 200,000 industry experts and visitors from around 50 countries to the South Korean island of Jeju.

While the expo preparation committee had promised to expand the participation of finished car brands this year, only two, Tesla and Polestar, took part in this year’s event.

But the chairman stressed that they must also focus on giving SMEs and startups to help them make their own finished EVs.

“Our goal is not to attract a million visitors to the expo like the Seoul Mobility Show or the Beijing Motor Show. Instead, we want to gather many opinion leaders, and provide business opportunities for mobility startups such as Maiv,” Kim said.

Maiv, an auto startup, created what it calls the M1 model, a microsize EV that can travel 100 kilometers once fully charged.

“It’s been the three years since we started business and we have sold around 300 microsize EVs in the country. But it is hard for a startup to make a finished product because we have difficulty getting the supply of auto parts to make one whole car,” said Kim Jong-bae, CEO of Maiv, a micro e-mobility maker. “In that sense, we need more government support in flourishing the market for startups and SMEs that want to make EVs.”

This year, South Korean startup Vinssen, which made the nation’s first commercialized hydrogen-electric boat, also took part in the expo and exhibited its eco-friendly boat.

“We have launched an electric boat sharing business for the first time here in Jeju. The business involves renting electric boats to fishers and also to tourists that have the license to drive boats and want to enjoy the sea,” said Lee Chil-han, CEO of Vinssen.

Global all-electric car makers Tesla and Polestar were the main exhibitors at the expo, where Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia were absent.

Tesla exhibited its most popular plug-in EV Model 3 and Model Y, while Polestar Korea brought Polestar 2, its first car to hit the Korean roads.

Samsung SDI also took part in the expo to show off diverse mobility platforms such as BMW iX, electric all-terrain vehicle, and e-scooters, equipped with its batteries such as Gen.5 and cylindrical batteries.

Starting next year, the expo will stage not only EVs but anything about e-mobility such as electric vessels and urban air mobility, organizers said.

“To make Jeju Island a truly carbon-free island, we need to think about how to make carbon free vessels, agricultural machines, and UAMs as well,” said Kim Dae-hwan, chairman of IEVE organizing committee at a press conference.

“Thus, we will do our best to include these sectors in our expo to enhance its position as an e-mobility expo rather than just focusing on EVs from now on.”

The expo runs through Friday.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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