Luxury cars spark motor showThe 2005 Seoul Motor Show features 38 automakers from 10 countries showing off new technologies and designs, with upscale “concept” cars being a highlight.
The preview of the event, which opens to the public tomorrow, had a variety of performances, including a fashion show sponsored by Hyundai Motor, electronic music from DaimlerChrysler, and acrobats from Audi and BMW.
The show, at the Kintex exhibition center in Goyang, Gyeonggi province, takes on special significance this year as it showcases both domestic and imported cars. For the last few years, domestic and foreign companies have held separate shows due to disagreements on booth space and profit-sharing.
Although some concept cars shown at the 2005 Shanghai Motor Show did not make it to Seoul because of time constraints, several by Rolls Royce, Renault, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Ssangyong, Daewoo, Chrysler and Lexus will be on display.
BMW-owned Rolls Royce’s 100EX Centenary Experimental Car, a 5.67 meter (18.6 feet) long convertible version of its new Phantom, sporting a 9-liter V16 engine, is one of the upmarket cars on display.
The Mercedes-Benz Maybach 62, a competitor to the Phantom at a cool 720 million won ($719,000), boasts a 550-horsepower V12 engine, along with a cocktail bar and refrigerator. This is the choice of Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee. Four Maybachs were sold this year through March compared to one Rolls Royce.
Mercedes-Benz is also showing the SLR McLaren concept sports car, featuring gull wing doors and acceleration from 0 to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in only 3.8 seconds.
Audi is displaying its RS4 concept car, which has a 4.2-liter V8 engine and uses the four-by-four Quatro system, alongside its new A4 and A8 with 6-liter 12-cylinder engines, and the A4 Cabriolet. Audi has made strides this year, selling three times more cars through March ― up to 600 units ― than last year.
BMW is displaying the H2R hydrogen-fueled racing vehicle: a 5.4 meter long vehicle that is a surprisingly light 1,560 kilograms (3,439 pounds) due to its carbon fiber exterior. The vehicle only uses hydrogen, but can produce 285 horsepower and reach 100 kilometers an hour in only 6 seconds. BMW is also displaying the new Mini Cooper 3.
At the Import Motor Show in 2003, BMW Korea chief Kim Hyo-joon said there was not yet a significant market in Korea for a small premium car such as the Mini. The car was introduced in the country last month, and Klaus Berning, senior vice president of BMW, said demand was “overwhelming.” Two hundred cars have been sold, and BMW Korea increased its orders by 200 units, to 600.
Hyundai Motor is showing the mid-size luxury Grandeur TG, which is slightly larger than its predecessor, the XG, while GM Daewoo is displaying its Statesman luxury car built by General Motors’s Australian subsidiary, Holden.
Japan’s Nissan Motor features its Infiniti luxury line for the first time in Korea. Though the brand is less well known than Toyota’s Lexus, its Japanese archrival and the second best selling luxury import in Korea, it has made great progress in the U.S. market recently. There will be five models in the show: the powerful M series sedan, the flagship Q45, the sleek G35 sports coupe and G35 sedan, and FX sport utility vehicle.
Volkswagen’s new midsize Passat is making its local debut. The sixth generation Passat is larger than previous models and features advanced electronic systems seen in luxury brands. Volkswagen is also displaying its Phaeton luxury sedan with a 6-liter W12 engine. Since Phaeton debuted in Korea early this month, about 50 units have been sold.
Honda Motor is the fourth largest auto exporter to Korea with just two vehicles: the mid-size Accord and the CR-V compact SUV. Honda is displaying its popular Odyssey minivan, Legend luxury sedan, Accord coupe, S2000 sports car and new FR-V SUV. The fourth-generation Legend, which is known as the Acura RL in the United States, was selected as the 2004-05 Car of the Year in Japan. The Legend’s older version was assembled by Daewoo Motor and sold as the Arcadia. Honda is also displaying its environmentally friendly hybrid Insight as well as two concept cars. The Insight is already commercialized and became the first hybrid car to be sold in the United States.
Chrysler is presenting its crossover vehicle, Pacifica, and the Treo concept SUV.
Italian design studios located in Italy’s Piemonte region are displaying prototypes, while other cars debuting are Volvo’s XC90 SUV, Peugeot’s 607Hdi minivan, Saab’s 9-3 Sport Combi, Cadillac’s STS 3.6 luxury sedan, Ford’s new Mustang coupe and convertible 500, Chevrolet’s C6 Corvette, Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport and Jaguar’s New XJ Super.
by Limb Jae-un
The motor show continues until May 8. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ticket prices range from 5,000 won ($5) to 8,000 won. The Kintex is located 10 minutes from exit No. 1 of Daehwa station on subway line No. 3. For information, call (02) 3660-1887/9 or visit www.motorshow.or.kr.