Tesla has been off to a rough start in South Korea. The company officially launched in the country last August when it started taking orders for the Model S and X. Soon after, it secured a partnership with the Shinsegae Group to deploy charging stations and open a store at their new Starfield Hanam mall in December 2016 – pictured above.
The plans have since been pushed reportedly because of delays having to do with government certification, which the company finally received this week from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
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Tesla submitted plans to sell and service its vehicles directly to the consumers as it does in all other markets.
The Korea Herald reports:
“According to the ministry, directly-run service centers will be in charge of the vehicle’s core functions such as charging and autonomous driving, while supplementary services such as for exterior repairs will be handled by subcontractors.”
While Tesla does mechanical and electrical repairs in its own shops, body repairs are performed by third-party shops trained and approved by the company.
This approval by the ministry clears a hurdle for the company, but Tesla still has a few problems in Korea. For example, Tesla buyers don’t have access to the very generous electric vehicle incentive of up to 22 million won ($18,328) offered by the government.
The reason for the ineligibility is pretty ridiculous for anyone familiar with long-range electric vehicles. For an EV to be eligible to the incentive, the electric car needs to be able to fully charge in under 10 hours using a standard outlet.
It unfairly gives an advantage to vehicles with small battery packs and shorter ranges. Vehicles with larger packs and longer ranges, like Tesla’s, can charge under 10 hours, but by using level 2 chargers – not a standard outlet. Other EV incentive schemes, like California’s ZEV mandate, include charging speed restrictions, but they are nowhere near as restrictive as this Korean scheme.
The South Korean government is reportedly considering changing the rule as Tesla and BYD are coming to the market with bigger battery packs.