Government subsidies and idols bring goods, South Korea set off Tesla boom

From cocktails of the same name to enthusiastic buyers, Tesla is sought after in South Korea, especially among tech-savvy professionals, Reuters reported. Kang Sung-mo, who runs an advertising production company in Seoul, is one of Tesla’s big fans. “I’m not interested in cars, but I’m very interested in the Tesla brand and its technology.” Jiang, 39, said.

Government subsidies and idols bring goods, South Korea set off Tesla boom

He ordered a Tesla Model 3 in December, even though he only bought a Hyundai last summer. Tesla’s innovative ideas help to improve its image, he said.

The U.S. electric car maker’s performance in South Korea peaked in June, selling 2,827 vehicles, rebounding from weak sales in April and May. The Model 3 is now the second largest imported vehicle in South Korea, ahead of the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, after the Mercedes E-Class.

By contrast, sales of the Kona EV, South Korea’s local carmaker, fell 31 per cent in June to 2,513 vehicles. Another 4,000 to 5,000 South Korean consumers have ordered model 3, most of which won’t be delivered until September, according to people familiar with the matter.

Tesla’s growing popularity among wealthy professionals in South Korea is also one of the company’s proud things. More importantly, these people are relatively less affected by the outbreak.

Speaking of Tesla’s threat to the traditional car brand, the company last week overtook Toyota to become the world’s most valuable carmaker. Tesla’s second-quarter delivery was well ahead of market expectations when rivals’ second-quarter performance was hit by an outbreak.

Of course, South Korea’s generous 12.43 million won ($10,380) subsidy for Model 3 did boost model 3 sales. The subsidized Model 3 sells for less than $40,000. However, the company’s own publicity has also been instrumental.

On social media, South Korean Tesla fans are keen to share the route of the vehicle. Recently, a new cocktail was popular in Korean bars, a mix of Terra-branded beer and traditional Korean shochu “soju”. Together, the two names are very similar to the pronunciation of Tesla in Korean.

South Korean star Liu Yaren, who took to the streets to take to the streets on his Tesla Model X on a reality show that aired last month, gave Tesla a free ad. According to another person familiar with the matter, the wave of free ads has sent Model X sales soaring.

Other newly-promoted South Korean owners say they bought Tesla for practical reasons.

Kim Dong-hwan, who works for an IT company in Seoul, says the company is far from home and buys Tesla in the hope of avoiding public transportation and fatigue from long driving during the outbreak.

But not everything is perfect – there are small gaps in his Model 3 panel, which can take months to repair. But Kim Dong-hwan says it’s nothing compared to the benefits and emotional appeal of advanced technology brands.

“I’m generally happy with the new car, given that Tesla’s self-driving features can reduce driving fatigue,” he said.