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Korea: BMW Eyes Korea’s Fledgling Electric Car Market

BMW Korea CEO Kim Hyo-joon introduces the all-electric i8 on Tuesday in Seoul.
While South Korea’s auto market is dominated by local players, particularly Hyundai Motor Group, Germany’s BMW has seen a healthy jump in its share of the imported passenger car market to 26% last year from 18% three years earlier.

BMW Group Korea attributes some of that surge to the effect of South Korea’s free-trade agreement with the European Union, which took effect last year and lowered tariffs on imports from the EU. BMW’s vehicle sales rose 19% to 11,032 units in the January-April period from a year earlier.

The German luxury car maker is hoping to replicate that success in the nascent electric car market with the introduction of two pure electric models – the i3 and the i8 – in 2014 following their global launch in 2013.

BMW will be entering the local electric car market around the same time as Hyundai, which plans to sell an Elantra-sized compact electric car from 2014. Kia Motors aims to introduce an electric version of its Ray mini car in 2013, depending on Korea’s progress in building charging stations for electric vehicles.


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