i3 dealer is criticized for not using eco-subsidies

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i3 dealer is criticized for not using eco-subsidies

Kolon Motors, one of BMW Korea’s dealers, is under fire for giving up the subsidies it won from the Seoul Metropolitan Government to buy electric vehicles after promising to support the city’s scheme to increase the use of environmentally friendly automobiles.

Industry insiders have said that the dealer agreed to be part of the municipal government’s program to advertise their i3 electric vehicle - a condition of which was to sign up for the subsidies - but that it didn’t actually want to be part of the eco-friendly project.

In October, the city government announced a program in which it would give a 20 million won ($18,140) subsidy each to 182 people or companies who applied to purchase an electric vehicle.

They designated five EVs - the Ray and Soul, both made by Kia Motors, the Renault Samsung SM3, General Motors Korea’s Spark and BMW’s i3 - as vehicles on which customers could receive the 20 million subsidy.

Applicants who are chosen to receive the subsidy can choose which vehicle they want.

The applicants were split into three groups: 20 cars would go to men of national merit such as veterans, 112 to individuals and 50 to corporations.

The city government announced the subsidy winners last week, but four of the men of national merit, 32 of the individuals and six of the corporate group decided not to purchase a vehicle.

The government said that all six of the cancellations from the corporate group were from Kolon Motors, which sells BMW cars and provides repair services for the company.

“That is very odd,” said a spokesman in the industry on the condition of anonymity. It seems like they obviously just wanted to [use the scheme to] advertise their vehicle since the city government’s program was covered by all media at the time.”

The competition in the corporate group was high, with 133 applicants for subsidies in the category.

“We realized that the city government doesn’t allow the buying of a car with a lease program, which we thought was an eligible option,” said Kolon Motors. “That is the only reason we canceled buying it and nothing else.”

Without the 20 million won subsidy, the most expensive model of the electric cars costs 57.5 million won, which is about 10 million won more than Hyundai Motor’s premium sedan Genesis.

But because the subsidy was large and BMW offered additional discounts, the i3 was the most popular car among the five vehicles.

“Since this is our first time running the program, there were some miscommunications between us and buyers [including Kolon] on many issues,” said Na Il-cheong, a spokesman for the city government.

“We will try to improve our overall program in order to achieve our goal of spreading more environmentally friendly cars in the city. The quota of six canceled [vehicles] will be reassigned soon.”

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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