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‘More than 50 imported EV models to be unveiled in S. Korea by 2023’

Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association Chairman Rene Koneberg speaks to reporters during a media conference held in Seoul on Tuesday. (KAIDA)
Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association Chairman Rene Koneberg speaks to reporters during a media conference held in Seoul on Tuesday. (KAIDA)

Foreign car brands will introduce at least 54 electric vehicle models here by 2023, South Korea’s imported car association said Tuesday.

New executives and board members of the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association noted a clear shift of the industry paradigm toward electrification at their first press conference since their inauguration last year, saying foreign players will be adding momentum to that by presenting more electricity-powered vehicles.

“For me it’s not a question of whether or not this trend (of electric vehicles) will continue. I think electrification of vehicles is part of the automotive future. And that will also mean that cars will be available in all price ranges,” Thomas Klein, president of Mercedes-Benz Korea who also doubles as the vice president of the association, said at the virtual conference.

Rene Koneberg, the association’s chairman and managing director of Audi Volkswagen Korea, pointed out that the number of eco-friendly imported vehicles sold here have surged to 18.1 percent in 2020, up from 2.5 percent in 2010. Last year, KAIDA member companies launched 10 EV models, excluding Tesla, which is not part of the group. Over 3,300 EV units of imported car brands, excluding Tesla, have been registered in Korea, according to the association.

Among the total number of imported cars sold from January to April this year, 30.6 percent were eco-friendly vehicles, including EVs, plug-in hybrid EVs and hybrid cars, the association added.

To support the growing EV industry, foreign automotive companies will continue to invest in charging infrastructures and implement up to some 1,700 charging stations, it said.

During the conference, Koneberg, who was appointed as chair in October 2020, also unveiled the five key categories the association will work on to increase their presence as a representative association of the imported car industry: communication, transparency, green cars, contribution to Korean automotive industry and corporate social responsibility.

“In addition to offering a wider range of products, KAIDA has been focusing on expanding its activities targeting various stakeholders including the government agencies and the consumers,” Koneberg said.

KAIDA, established in 1995, currently has 27 member companies. KAIDA conducts various joint events and promotional activities aimed at resolving issues and challenges their Korean consumers face, while protecting their rights, the association said. It also carries out various projects regarding government policies and regulations, and gathers statistics related to imported cars, the association added.

By Jo He-rim (