DAEGU -- Renault Samsung Motors, the Korean unit of the French carmaker, on Thursday introduced the new full-electric vehicle, SM3 Z.E., as part of its strategy to tap into the new market of green cars here.
The presentation was made by the group‘s Senior Vice President Gilles Normand at Daegu International Future Auto Expo held for four days from Wednesday at Daegu EXPO.
As Korea’s only sub mid-sized EV sedan, SM3 Z.E. represents the most luxurious model among all EVs sold by Renault, incorporating leading EV technologies, according to company officials.
The company added that due to the outstanding autonomy and spacious interior space, the new vehicle is likely to appeal not only to personal passengers but also to government demands. Some 1,200 units of the model were purchased by the Ministry of Health and Welfare this April for public use and also a considerable number are to be operated as EV taxis in Seoul, Daegu and Jeju Island.
Renault Samsung Motors‘ new electric vehicle sedan model SM3 Z.E. (Renault Samsung Motors)
The new SM3 Z.E. has increased its autonomy by 57 percent from the previous model, to 213 kilometers, which is the longest record in the EV segment. Given the average daily autonomy of 40 kilometers as tallied by the Korea Transportation Safety Authority in 2016, the new SM3 Z.E. can run for about five days upon a single charge.
The battery's capacity has also been improved by 63 percent to 35.9 kilowatt hours, without any increase in weight.
Even with such improvements, the price of the new model will be maintained at its current 30 million won level, officials said. The price of the SM3 Z.E. by trim is 39.5 million for the lower SE model and 41.5 million for the luxury RE trim, VAT included.
“We will bring more electric taxis and commercial vehicles in the coming years to the Korean market alongside SM3 Z.E. that was unveiled today in order to solidify our presence as an EV leader here,” said Renault Group’s Senior Vice President Gilles Normand.
Although he did not specify the model, market watchers expect Renault’s 1-ton commercial van Kangoo ZE will be the next model to be launched in the Korean market. Early this month, a local media outlet reported Renault will launch its electric commercial van Kangoo ZE next year in Korea and possibly produce the cars here too.
Kangoo ZE that costs around 20 million won ($18,400) to 24 million won in Europe is popular for mail and parcel delivery in the continent.
The vice chairman said, “Electric cars significantly contribute to improving the environment as they do not emit carbon dioxide while driving, calling for more government supports to expand the green cars.
“In order for the EV market to grow here, there should be more government support, including battery subsidies and permitting EV cars travelling in bus-only lane during rush hour,” Normand said.
He picked Norway as a nation for Korea to benchmark. ”In Norway, the portion of electric car stands at 17 percent on the back of the government that allows diverse benefits, including the permission of electrics cars traveling in bus-only lane, free parking services and free charging services.”
By Cho Chung-un and Shin Ji-hye