Tesla 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.
It was supposed to open in December 2016, but they were waiting on government certification, which they obtained last month. Now they are officially opening the store and launching a second one by the end of the week.
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Tesla announced that the first store in Hanam is opening today. It is located in a brand new mall, which became the biggest in the country.
The company gave test drives for the Model X and tours of the store to local journalists.
A report suggested that the company’s first store is only a “showroom” and that Tesla can’t sell vehicles from the location like in states where direct sales are not allowed, but we are told that it is not the case. Tesla has been permitted to sell directly in Korea.
Here are a few pictures of the first store via Jaehwan Cho on Twitter:
The second store will reportedly open by the end of the week in the upscale Cheongdam neighbourhood of Seoul, the South Korean capital.
The first deliveries of the Model S and X are now planned for June. The company is planning to have 6 Supercharger stations in the country in order to support its new customers.
Unfortunately for them, there’s still the problem of access to EV incentives.
As we previsouly reported, 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.