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Seoul motor show presents future of sustainable mobility
Biannual auto extravaganza, though downsized under COVID, exhibits heated race for green technology
Published : Nov 25, 2021 - 16:27
Updated : Nov 25, 2021 - 19:21
Executives of Kia pose in front of the all-new Kia Niro. (Kia)
South Korea’s biannual auto show kicked off Thursday with global carmakers showcasing sustainable, smart and sophisticated mobility to lure local drivers with future technologies designed to revitalize the pandemic-hit automotive industry.

The Seoul Mobility Show offers its stage for one world premiere, five Asia premieres and 14 Korea premiers of six different local and foreign brands. About 100 car manufacturers and mobility companies from six different countries joined the show simultaneously taking place in Seoul and Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, for its 10-day run.

This year’s auto extravaganza is filled with green automobiles such as all-electric and hydrogen vehicles that reflect the fast-growing demand for new sustainable technology set to replace conventional, fossil-fuel cars. Among the 20 debuts taking the stage, 13 were either electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles.

For the show, homegrown carmaker Kia unveiled the all-new Niro in a world premiere. The Niro makeover comes five years since the car was launched as the first hybrid sport utility vehicle by Kia.

Through this new version, Kia envisions becoming the provider of sustainable mobility.

“As a sustainable mobility provider, we will contribute to the development of our customers, community, and the global society,” said Song Ho-sung, head of Kia’s global operations division.

The all-new Niro was designed to be practical, safe and smart, the carmaker said.

The two-toned body is simple but at the same time detailed and sophisticated with the combination of glossy and matte materials.

Both the EV and the HEV model of the Niro were showcased at the event.

German carmaker Mercedes-Benz also showcased five new all-electric vehicles: the EQE, Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4MATIC+, Concept EQG, EQS and EQB.

Speaking at a press briefing, the president of Mercedes-Benz Korea, Thomas Klein, said they are accelerating from prioritizing on making new EV models to making only EVs.

“The focus on EV only is the only way to build a successful future for sustainable mobility and for our company,” he said.

By 2025, the German carmaker will offer customers EV alternatives for all their lineups.

Their AMG EQS 53 4MATIC+ that premiered in Asia showed an attempt to spice up their EV with dazzling features, such as being able to sprint from zero to 100 kph in 3.8 seconds.

BMW Group Korea, which has the brand Mini under its wing, exhibited its concept model Mini Strip for the first time in Asia, as well as their all-electric vehicle iX, i4, X3, iX3, and Mini Electric.

With Mini Strip, the automaker envisions rebranding its image as a sustainable brand that accommodates diverse life styles. They collaborated with the famous British designer Paul Smith when designing the car.

BMW said above all, it hopes customers have a fun driving experience with their all-electric vehicles.

“BMW Group presents a new direction for next-generation mobility under the theme of future mobility. It will be a new starting point to gauge the future mobility market through various models and identify alternatives to rapidly changing lifestyles,” said Hang Sang-yun, CEO of BMW Group Korea.

Their all-electric motorcycle CE04 was also exhibited at the event.

Lee Ho-geun, a professor of automotive engineering at Daeduk University, said auto brands are all gearing up for the shift to a carbon-neutral future.

“Automobile experts say the transition of the automobile industry into all-electric vehicle market is unavoidable as governments implement environmental measures. Adding to that, just like the urea shortage situation in South Korea showed a couple of weeks ago, more automakers know that electricity is the solution to fuel dependency,” Lee said.

This year’s event was held at a much smaller scale than previous shows, with less automakers taking part due to the pandemic.

The Seoul Mobility Show opens to the public on Friday.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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