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BMW launches plug-in EV in S. Korea

BMW Korea, the local unit of German carmaker BMW, launched the i8 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in South Korea on Thursday, igniting competition in the burgeoning environment-friendly car market.

The i8 plug-in sports car is equipped with an engine and an electric motor, which can be charged from outside. It can run 37 kilometers with a fully charged electric motor and go as far as 600 kilometers if it uses both the motor and the engine, the company said.

The car adopted carbon fiber reinforced plastics aimed at reducing its overall weight and its 1.5-liter twin power turbo engine can produce a maximum of 231 horsepower with a torque of

32.7 kilogram-meters. Its electric motor can produce 131 horsepower and a torque of 24.4 kilogram-meters.

The electric motor can be fully charged in 2-4 hours when plugged in a 220 voltage circuit, the company said.

Last year, BMW established 200 charging stations across the country, including on the southern resort island of Jeju, to help customers more conveniently charge their electric vehicles. It plans to increase the number to about 400.

"The i8 shows off the strong driving performance you can find only in a sports car, while at the same time providing the fuel efficiency that matches a small vehicle. This appeals to customers who want not just fun driving but efficiency as well," a BMW official said.

BMW aims to sell about 180 unit of the i8, priced at 199.9 million won ($181,562). It said it has already received 100 pre-orders.

The launch of the i8 is expected to spark competition in the environment-friendly car market here as other automakers are poised to unveil their own models.

Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's leading carmaker, plans to roll out a PHEV in June. Audi is also to unveil its own model during the upcoming Seoul Motor Show and start selling it from the second half of this year. (Yonhap)

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