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Tesla Expected To Begin Selling Cars in Korea In May

By February 16, 2017 at 6:15 am
Tesla's service centers will handle the vehicle’s core functions like autonomous driving and charging, the Korean transportation ministry said. (Photo : Breitbart)

Tesla Motors is set to launch in South Korea in May after the completion of its registration process with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the government said Thursday.

Service centers directly operated by Tesla will be tasked of the vehicle's core functions like autonomous driving and charging, while subcontractors will be in charge of supplementary services like exterior repairs, the ministry said. 

The US carmaker filed for certification on the car's emissions and noise with the government in September last year. In order to sell cars in Korea, Tesla also registered as an auto manufacturer, according to the transportation ministry.

Industry watchers are expecting Tesla's entry into the Korean market to change the game in the country's fast growing eco-friendly car market. Currently, the market is dominated by Hyundai Motor Co.'s models that include Hyundai's Sonata, Grandeur, and Ioniq hybrid models and Kia Niro. 

Korea recently saw a huge increase in sales of green cars. In a report released earlier this week, a total of 4,237 eco-friendly units of hybrid cars and electric vehicles were sold in the country in January, compared to 2,979 units in the year-earlier month.

BYD will be joining Tesla in its entry into South Korea when it was reported that the Chinese electric carmaker also applied for registration at the transportation ministry. BYD is expected to get its certification sometime next week, the ministry said.

Although Tesla has yet to release the local price of its cars or its specifications, it has already started taking preorders from South Korean customers last year.

For many Korean car buyers, the car's potentially high price tag will likely be a hurdle as the government did not make the Tesla Model S eligible for subsidies after failing to meet standards on recharging. To be eligible for government support, green cars in Korea must be fully recharged in not more than 10 hours. It is said that it takes more than 12 hours for the Model S to be fully recharged. 

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