Hyundai pushes back plug-in launch in China

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Hyundai pushes back plug-in launch in China

Hyundai Motor has delayed the launch of its Sonata’s plug-in hybrid in China until next year.

The midsize sedan was scheduled go on sale in China in the first quarter of this year, but has been pushed back to February 2018 because it is on the verge of being excluded from the list of EV makers qualified for government subsidy because it is equipped with Korean-made batteries.

It is a move seen to be part of a slew of Beijing’s retaliatory acts over Seoul’s planned deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Korea.

The Chinese government recently said it is considering curtailing subsidies provided to electric cars installed with non-certified batteries.

In June, LG Chem and Samsung SDI, two of Korea’s top battery makers, failed to receive certification from China, raising concerns not only among battery producers but also carmakers who use their products.

Beijing Hyundai Motor Company, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor and Beijing Automotive, said it will replace the battery supplier from LG Chem to Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL).

CATL is a battery producer based in Ningde, China, which tripled production capacity of lithium-ion batteries in 2016 and plans to expand its capacity sixfold by 2020.

Changing the equipped battery requires the car manufacturer to overhaul the structure layout which resulted in Hyundai Motor inevitably delaying the plug-in’s launch. “In China, it is nearly impossible to sell eco-friendly cars if you don’t receive government subsidy,” said a Hyundai Motor spokesperson. Government subsidy accounts for as much as 40 percent of the final price of a battery-charged eco-friendly vehicle.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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