Electrified Kona, Jaguar debut in Korea’s sizzling EV market

By Cho Chung-un

Korea‘s EV market grows 25 times in six years, likely to reach 50,000 units in sales this year

Published : Apr 12, 2018 - 17:16
Updated : Apr 12, 2018 - 17:16

South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor unveiled the world’s first electrified compact SUV on Thursday at an exhibition in Seoul to highlight the growing interests in electric vehicles here.

Named Kona Electric, the latest green vehicle by Hyundai is certified by the Seoul government to drive 406 kilometers per charge, more than the 390 kilometers range the carmaker had expected when it started to receive preorders, the company said.

The vehicle was debuting at the exhibition hosted by the Ministry of Environment to promote the use of green cars. 

Lee Kwang-kook, vice president of Hyundai Motor’s sales division, poses during an unveiling show of Kona Electric at Coex, Seoul, Thursday. (Hyundai Motor)



Powered by high a capacity battery manufactured by LG Chem., Kona Electric can produce 204 horsepower and 40.3 kg per meter torque at the maximum, similar to that of diesel 2.0 engine.

“Kona Electric is the world’s first compact SUV powered by electricity designed for comfortable and innovative lifestyle,” said Lee Kwang-kook, vice president of Hyundai Motor’s sales division.

“It will break down the wall between cars with combustion engines and EVs.”

The company was able to deploy more batteries by using water-based coolant effectively controlling temperatures of batteries, he said. By adopting aluminum frame partly, the weight of the vehicle has become lighter, enough to enhance power efficiency.

Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover Korea, the local importer and distributor of the British carmaker, unveiled the luxury electric vehicle dubbed I-Pace for first time in Asia.

Jaguar Land Rover Korea’s luxury electric vehicle dubbed I-Pace (Jaguar Land Rover Korea)



Alongside the high-performance I-Pace EV, it also displayed plug-in hybrid EV versions of the new Range Rover Sport and new Range rover.

“This event marks the beginning of Jaguar Land Rover’s electrification, as the company aims to thrive as a leader in the EV market,” said Baek Jung-hyun, the managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Korea, at EV Trend Korea.

The five-seater I-Pace powered by the latest 90 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery, boasts a maximum driving distance of 480 kilometers per full charge.

With 50 kilowatt fast charging, it takes about 90 minutes to charge 80 percent of the EV, the company said.

The carmaker’s self-developed battery enables stable drive at minus 40 degrees Celsius.

The EV has been designed to be charged with a DC combo charger for Korean drivers to utilize existing charging infrastructure, according to the company.

During the exhibition, other major carmakers including Renault Samsung and BMW also participated, introducing signature lineups such as SM3 Z.E and i-series.

The sales of EVs surged 25 times in last six years from 550 in 2012 to 14,000 in 2015. The government expects to see annual sales of 50,000 EVs this year.

A regular version of Hyundai’s Kona is priced at 46.5 million won and a premium label at 48.5 million won, while Jaguar‘s EV is priced between 100.4 million won and 128 million won. The two are subject for subsidies by central and municipal governments. For EVs registered in Seoul, around 17 million won will be offered as subsidy, according to Hyundai.

By Cho Chung-un and Kim Bo-gyung
(christory@heraldcorp.com) (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)

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