Tesla now the No. 5 import on Model 3 debut

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Tesla now the No. 5 import on Model 3 debut

Tesla was the No. 5 imported car brand in November on strong sales of its Model 3, the company’s most affordable offering.

As of the end of November 2018, a total of 118 Teslas were registered in the country. This November, 1,258 of the cars were newly registered, according to data from automobile information provider Carisyou.

A total of 25,239 imported cars of all makes were registered in November, a 10.9 percent jump on year.

Tesla debuted the Model 3 in Korea on Nov. 22. In a week, the company sold 1,207 of the cars.

As No. 5 in the market, Tesla comes in behind Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Volkswagen. It was Tesla’s best performance since it opened its first store in Korea in 2017.

Unlike the Model S and Model X, which cost more than 100 million won ($897 million), the Model 3 is relatively affordable, starting in the 50-million-won range. Model 3 sales are expected to remain strong.

Tesla operates two stores in Korea, one in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, and the other in Hanam, Gyeonggi. It also has two service centers, one in Gangseo District, western Seoul, and the other in Bundang, Gyeonggi.

“We plan to open Tesla centers that are equipped with exhibition centers and service centers in Busan and Bundang in the first half of next year,” said a spokesperson for Tesla.

“There are currently 24 [Tesla] supercharger stations, and we plan to open eight more by the end of the year in areas including Incheon and Busan.”

Although Tesla is gaining a presence in Korea, it could be a temporary phenomenon with the sudden inflow of the cars, according to Carisyou. Consumer complaints about Tesla include the lack of infrastructure for charging and the cars themselves. The high price is also controversial.

Although the imported car market slightly recovered on promotions, overall, it has been weak, especially with the collapse of Japanese car sales.

The number of newly registered Japanese vehicles last month dropped 56.4 percent on year to 2,357 units, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association. The on-year fall started with a 17.2 percent decline in July, when Korean consumers started refusing to buy from Japanese brands. The rate was 56.9 percent in August, 59.8 percent in September and 58.4 percent in October.

The most affected brand was Lexus, followed by Toyota and Honda. But sales of Japanese vehicles in November rose 19.2 percent compared to the previous month.

BY JIN MIN-JI, LEE DONG-HYEON [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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