Automakers compete to launch electric cars

GM Korea on Tuesday unveiled a new electric car that will go on sale in October. Officially priced at W39.9 million (US$1=W1,117), it will benefit from subsidies both from the Environment Ministry (W1.5 million) and local governments (W8 million in Jeju) and could therefore come as cheap as W16.9 million. 

Other automakers are jumping on the bandwagon. Kia launched the Ray EV last month, while Renault Samsung’s SM3 ZE will hit the market in October. 

GM launched the Spark EV in Incheon on Tuesday. It can travel up to 135 km on a single charge, so by driving it for seven years at 15,000 km per year, motorists can save up to W12.08 million compared to a gasoline model, the automaker claims.

The Spark EV will be produced in Changwon and also exported to overseas. In the U.S., it hit showrooms last month and so far over 100 have been sold. 

Kia reduced the price of the Ray EV by W10 million to W35 million last month, and with subsidies it comes as cheaply as W12 million. Renault Samsung’s SM3 ZE is most expensive model at W45 million, but that also comes down to W22 million with subsidies. 

Kia sold 750 of the cars last month, mostly to local and central government agencies. “There are over 1,000 battery chargers nationwide, but most of them are in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Jeju, which is not enough to travel all over the country in an electric car,” a Kia staffer said.

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