- Title: Technology and status symbol: South Koreans succumb to Tesla fever
- Date: 7th July 2020
- Summary: SCREEN SHOWING NAVIGATION SYSTEM, BATTERY STATUS AND AVAILABLE STATUS OF TESLA SUPERCHARGERS
- Embargoed: 21st July 2020 13:30
- Keywords: South Korea Tesla coronavirus electric car self-driving supercharger
- Location: SEOUL, HANAM, SOUTH KOREA
- City: SEOUL, HANAM, SOUTH KOREA
- Country: South Korea
- Topics: Company News Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA002CLY69MV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Tesla Inc is having a moment in South Korea, particularly among tech-savvy professionals, who have been relatively unscathed by the pandemic.
Kang Sung-mo, who runs an advertising production agency in Seoul, is a convert. "I am not interested in cars, but I am interested in the Tesla brand and its technology," the 39-year-old told Reuters.
Kang bought a Tesla Model 3 in December, ditching the Hyundai crossover he bought only last summer. Being associated with Tesla's reputation for innovation was good for his image, he said.
The U.S. electric car maker had its best month for South Korea in June, selling 2,827 vehicles and bouncing back from weak sales in April and May which were hit by U.S. production disruptions due to the coronavirus. The Model 3 is now the country's No.2 imported vehicle, ahead of the BMW 5 series and the Audi A6, and just behind the Mercedes E-Class.
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 authorised to speak to the media and declined to be identified.
The automaker has additionally benefited from free advertising after popular Korean actor Yoo Ah-in, known for his sense of style, drove his Tesla Model X SUV to go grocery shopping on a reality show aired last month. That has led to a spike in orders for the vehicle, a second person familiar with the matter said without elaborating.
Some new Korean owners noted they bought a Tesla for practical reasons.
Kim Dong-hwan, who works in IT in Seoul, wanted to avoid public transportation during the pandemic and driving fatigue on his long commute.
Not everything is perfect - his Model 3 has a panel gap and he has to wait several months before it will be fixed - but Kim says the benefits and emotional appeal of a technologically advanced brand were worth it.
(Production: Daewoung Kim, Kim Hong-Ji, Minwoo Park)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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