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Seoul Motor Show features Chevrolet Spark debut, radical electric cars and SUVs

As the New York Auto Show takes place here, automakers are also putting in time at the Seoul Motor Show. Hyundai, Toyota, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, and Ford are all showing off cars, trying to strike the balance between the functionality of the SUV and the necessity of eco-friendly electric cars in congested Asian cities.

Vehicles on show at the Seoul Motor Show run the gamut from gas-guzzling SUVs to emission-free electric cars, and the occasional stab at bringing together the best of both worlds.

Carmakers including Hyundai, Toyota, GM, BMW, Volkswagen and Ford are taking part in the 10-day event, with nine models making their global debut as Seoul seeks to catch up with better-known Asian auto shows in Tokyo and Beijing.

Sports utility vehicles, including Toyota’s fourth-generation RAV4, are still the fore, despite their heavy frames and high fuel consumption — long seen as challenges to luring drivers in Asia’s congested cities.

French carmaker Renault gave an Asian debut to its new QM3 crossover — a downsized mix of SUV and passenger car — at an elaborate celebration event.

PHOTOS: 2013 NEW YORK AUTO SHOW

The colourful orange vehicle, first unveiled at the recent Geneva Motor Show, will hit the market in the second half of this year, said Francois Provost, chief executive of Renault’s South Korean unit.

Renault Samsung Motors is hoping the model will mark a “new beginning” for the firm, which has struggled with sagging sales in recent years, Provost said.

The company also flagged plans to start production of its electric sedan, SM3 Z.E., at its plant in the southern city of Busan this year.

The SM3 Z.E. covers around 120 kilometres (75 miles) on a single charge with a top speed of 135 kilometres per hour.

RELATED: HYBRIDS, ELECTRIC CARS MAY CUT POLLUTION BY 80 PERCENT BY 2050

US automaker General Motors gave an Asian premiere to the all-electric version of its Chevrolet Spark, heralding it as a “new benchmark” for urban electric vehicles.

Production of the electrically-powered hatchback began at the firm’s plant in the southern city of Changwon earlier in March.

More nydailynews.com

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