Korea surprisingly helped Tesla beat delivery expectations with strong deliveries last month, making Model 3 one of the best-selling cars in the market.

Tesla in Korea

The automaker originally had some issues entering the Korean market.

Tesla buyers didn’t have access to the very generous electric vehicle incentive of up to 26 million won ($21,000) offered by the government.

The reason for the ineligibility was pretty ridiculous for anyone familiar with long-range electric vehicles. For an EV to be eligible for the incentive, the electric car needed 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 in under 10 hours, but by using level 2 chargers or fast-charging, 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.

Realizing the error in July 2017, the government fixed the rule, and Tesla has been doing a little better in the market, but Model S and Model X remain expensive.

Last year, Tesla launched Model 3 in the market for as low as ~$26,000 with incentives.

Tesla hits it big in 2020

Now that the issue has been resolved, Tesla is having some strong success in the market in 2020.

As we previously reported, Tesla delivered over 4,000 Model 3 vehicles in Korea during the second quarter.

In the second quarter, the Tesla factory shutdown happened when the automaker was supposed to manufacture vehicles for international markets.

It badly affected sales in many markets for Tesla, but they still managed to get great numbers in Korea. They delivered almost 3,000 vehicles in the country in June alone after a ship landed just in time.

The Model 3 became the second best-selling imported vehicle in the country, which is known to prefer local brands like Hyundai and Kia.

Now Reuters reports that Tesla still has a backlog of 4,000 to 5,000 Model 3s in Korea:

Another 4,000 to 5,000 South Korean customers have the Model 3 on order, although most of them may have to wait until at least September for delivery, said a source familiar with the matter. The source was not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified.

Recently, demand in the country was helped by the pandemic turning people away from public transport and looking to take advantage of the strong EV incentives in the market.

Furthermore, popular Korean actor Yoo Ah-in, who has a massive social media following, recently prominently featured his Model X on a TV show, which reportedly helped Tesla’s sales in the country.

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