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S.Korea considers opening its generous $18,000 electric car incentive to Tesla vehicles as it enters the market


South Korea offers a very generous electric vehicle incentive of up to 22 million won ($18,328), but the program has a ridiculous rule that the electric car has to be able to fully charge in under 10 hours using a standard outlet. We are talking about a regular 220-volt outlet so of course, it unfairly disqualifies electric vehicles with larger battery packs and longer range, which on the market today primarily consists of Tesla’s vehicles.

But now that Tesla is entering the South Korean market, the government is reportedly looking into removing the requirement in order to accelerate electric vehicle adoption and address its worsening smog problem. 

Reuters reports that Tesla has been working with the government to remove the rule:

“Tesla Vice President Nicolas Villeger last month said the automaker was working with the government to change a “unique rule” that does not reflect advances in battery technology.”

The Ministry of Environment will reportedly take a decision during the first half of 2017.

South Korea is the world’s 11th largest car market and could become an important country in Tesla’s expansion plan. It largely favors domestic brands like Hyundai and Kia, but aside from the Soul EV and the now the Hyundai IONIQ Electric, the country’s electric vehicle options are limited.

The rule currently greatly favor those vehicles and helped Hyundai successfully launch the IONIQ Electric in the market despite some production delays.  Last month alone, Hyundai delivered over 1,000 IONIQ Electrics, which represents about a quarter of the entire 2016 electric vehicle sales in the country.

In August, Tesla started taking pre-orders for the Model S and X in the country and confirmed that “Korean customers have already shown a great interest in Tesla through reservations for Model 3”. The automaker later announced a partnership with Shinsegae, the largest retailer in South Korea, to open its first store in the market and to deploy charging stations at 25 locations.

The store was set to open by the end of the year, but Reuters now reports that “a delay in the registration necessary to start sales has pushed the opening to early next year”.

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