Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD, known as the world's largest producer of EVs, is poised to venture into South Korea's passenger EV market, raising apprehensions among domestic giants like Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp.
According to individuals familiar with the matter on Monday, BYD is scheduled to hold meetings with South Korea's Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy next month to secure approval for selling electric cars in the country.
Foreign automakers seeking to market electric models in Korea must obtain environmental and safety certifications for various aspects, including driving range, energy efficiency, and battery safety. Additionally, they must undergo an eligibility review for state EV subsidies.
The certification process typically spans two to three months, and if all progresses smoothly, BYD aims to introduce its passenger EV models in Korea during the first half of this year, sources revealed.
The inaugural model slated for the South Korean market is the compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) known as the BYD Atto 3, marking the Chinese EV maker's first global offering and top-selling model. Last year, global sales of the Atto 3 surpassed 100,000 units, constituting approximately 40% of BYD's total global EV sales.
With a single-charge range of 420 km, the BYD Atto 3 is priced at approximately 44 million won ($33,008) in Australia and Japan. Furthermore, BYD has filed trademarks for two other EV sedans, the midsize Seal and the hatchback Dolphine, suggesting plans for their introduction to the Korean market.
The anticipated entry of the Atto 3 into Korea is expected to intensify competition among existing players, including Hyundai Kona Electric, Hyundai IONIQ 5, Kia Niro EV, and Kia EV6, industry insiders noted.
BYD, backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is already engaged in the sale of commercial EVs, such as buses and trucks. In a separate development, KG Mobility Corp., formerly Ssangyong Motor, announced a collaboration with BYD to establish a battery pack factory in Korea, signaling further cooperation in the EV sector.
Having secured its position as the world's top EV maker in 2021, surpassing Tesla Inc., BYD also ranks as the second-largest battery manufacturer globally after Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL).