The contraction in sales is explained by the population’s preference for locally manufactured vehicles.
Tesla is facing a major blow in South Korea, where it managed to sell just one unit nationwide in January, marking its worst sales performance since July 2022, when it failed to sell only one car in this country. This decline was particularly noted on the Model Y, the best-selling car in the world last year.
South Korean drivers’ lack of enthusiasm for electric vehicles in general poses a challenge for all manufacturers in this market. High prices for Tesla vehicles and concerns about a shortage of charging stations are affecting sales. According to Lee Hang Koo, director of the Jeonbuk Institute of Automotive Convergence Technology, many South Koreans interested in buying a Tesla have already done so, so there are no longer as many potential customers to consider. sell the current range.
This lack of interest is not unique to Tesla, but reflects a broader trend in South Korea’s electric vehicle market. Although it is a developed country with large automakers, negative perceptions of electric vehicles, exacerbated by an increase in battery-related accidents, are affecting sales.
Additionally, a lack of clarity on how government incentives for purchasing electric vehicles work and issues with charging infrastructure are discouraging consumers. Although South Korea has a large number of charging stations, most of them are slow or semi-fast chargers, much like what happens in Chile, where the vast majority of charging stations do not exceed 60 kW of speed, well below the 250 kW that Tesla models are capable of supporting, unnecessarily prolonging the filling times of a battery.
The Tesla case also illustrates the distrust of vehicles and supplies from China, an additional factor affecting sales. And the growing nationalist sentiment present in South Korea has pushed the majority of customers to opt for locally produced cars.
In 2023, South Korea’s electric vehicle market saw its first contraction since 2017, with a total of 157,823 units delivered, indicating the need for measures to boost the sector. These challenges represent one of the most difficult cases for the electric vehicle market in 2024, especially in a country considered a technological hub and where certain cultural peculiarities are known, such as having the world record for ATMs per capita in the world.