Kaida says members are upping their eco-friendly offerings

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Kaida says members are upping their eco-friendly offerings

Rene Koneberg, chairman of Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (Kaida) and a managing director of Audi Volkswagen Korea, speaks at a press conference held Tuesday at Millennium Hilton Seoul in central Seoul. [KAIDA]

Rene Koneberg, chairman of Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (Kaida) and a managing director of Audi Volkswagen Korea, speaks at a press conference held Tuesday at Millennium Hilton Seoul in central Seoul. [KAIDA]

The Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (Kaida) said its members will have at least 131 eco-friendly models in the country – 53 all electric -- by 2023 to cope with the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs).
 
“Kaida members will introduce 131 models by 2023, including mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles,” said Rene Koneberg, managing director of Audi Volkswagen Korea who serves as the association’s chairman at the press conference held Tuesday. With mild hybrids, the electric motor only assists the internal combustion engine and cannot power the car on its own.  
 
“That is almost double the number of electric models we have as of 2021.”
 
Koneberg said that figure is likely to increase as there are more electric models with release dates not yet confirmed.  
 
Kaida’s Tuesday’s press conference was the current board’s first since it was formed last October, with Koneberg taking the chairman position then.
 
Kaida said it will strengthen cooperation with government agencies and hold related forums to help members sell more electric cars and build more charging stations in Korea.  
 
A total of 650 electric vehicle (EV) chargers were installed by import carmakers as of June 2021, and the association said the number will increase to more than 1,700 units.  
 
“Import carmakers will reach 10,000 units of EV sales per year relatively soon,” Thomas Klein, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Korea and the association’s vice chairman said Tuesday.  
 
“In terms of price and infrastructure perspective, EVs will be well supported.”
 
Eco-friendly passenger cars were 2.5 percent of all imported cars in 2010 and 27.7 percent last year.  
 
The association on Tuesday also laid out a number of new strategies to maintain the momentum of imports.  
 
It said it will fortify communications with its stakeholders, including customers and media, by subdividing its communication team. It also said it will provide advanced statistical tool to not only its members but also government agencies for better market analysis.  
 
Kaida, founded in 1995, represents 27 import car brands in Korea, 23 of which are passenger car brands and four of which are commercial vehicle brands.
 
Sales of import passenger cars in Korea, which was 6,921 units in 1995, grew to 274,859 units in 2020. Import passenger cars accounted for 17 percent of Korea’s auto market in 2020, from 0.6 percent in 1995.  
 
In the first half of this year, import carmakers sold 128,236 units posting 15.2 percent year-on-year growth.  
 
When asked if the association is willing to accept more members, Koneberg said “the association is open to anybody.”
 
Tesla, the biggest EV seller in Korea, is currently not a member of the association.
 

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