South Korea's electric vehicle segment is close to blowing up...in a good way.
Renault Samsung Motors is lowering the price of it latest electric version of the SM3. The updated SM3 will launch in October with a price of approximately $40,000. That's down from the $54,000 price tag of the previous version.
Subsidies are on the rise in South Korea now, which is leading other automakers to follow Renault Samsung's lead. In some areas of South Korea, electric vehicle subsidies range up to $20,000. This, in turn, makes the electric version of the SM3 basically the same price as the gas-fueled SM3.
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With subsidies in place, other automakers are getting ready to join in. Currently, South Korea lists 1,100 electric vehicles registered nationwide, but that'll rise soon.
The Chevrolet Spark EV will launch in South Korea before the end of 2013 and General Motors is already saying that the price of the Spark EV will be highly competitive. It surely will undercut the price of the SM3, but by how much?
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Kia too is considering slashing the price of its electric Ray in response to the move made by Renault Samsung. The Ray currently lists for $40,100, but it's assumed that Kia will cut that price down to approximately $31,000 or so. That's a pre-subsidy price, so once you add in the "up to $20,000 off," the electric Ray could cost as low as $11,000. Though it should be noted that only some subsidies in Korea are offered at the nationwide level. Most are more at the local/regional level.
Then there's the BMW i3. Though it won't be available in South Korea until next May, you can bet that BMW will price it competitively. Sure, it'll be more expensive than any of the vehicle listed above, but it still has to be somewhat competitively price or it won't sell.
Again, those subsidies play a huge role though. With "up to $20,000 off" almost any electric vehicle could be competitively priced in South Korea. And those subsidies likely mean that South Korea will be a hot bed for electric vehicles.