Renault SA will debut South Korea's first mass-produced battery-electric vehicle when it starts selling an all-electric version of its SM3 to the public in 2013, the Korea Herald reported, citing an interview with Francois Provost, CEO of the company's Renault Samsung division in South Korea.

Renault Samsung, which recently said it would start a test-vehicle project with 500 EVs this year, will equip the SM3 with a lithium-ion battery that will give the car a single-charge range of about 100 miles and can be switched out for another battery in 90 seconds, the newspaper said. The car, along with Kia's Ray EV also set to debut in South Korea in 2013, qualifies for a tax break of about $3,600. The all-electric SM3 will be priced at about 60 million won, or about $52,000.

Renault, which along with sister company Nissan is said to have invested as much as $5 billion developing battery-electric vehicles worldwide, is banking on a jump in demand in the Asia Pacific region for battery-electric vehicles. Globally, cumulative plug-in vehicle sales, including battery-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, will surge to 5.2 million in 2017 from 114,000 in 2011, according to green-technology research firm Pike Research. Asia-Pacific will account for about 617,000 electric-drive vehicles sold in 2017, almost double North America's total, according to Pike Research Senior Analyst Dave Hurst.

Throughout the first half of the year, Renault Samsung will import Renault Fluence ZE battery-electric vehicles from France, and will supply the cars to government officials in South Korea, the Korea Herald said.

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