South Korea offers as much as $18,000 in incentives to EV buyers, but the car must be able to fully recharge from a standard electrical outlet in 10 hours or fewer in order to qualify for the perk. That rule excludes buyers of Tesla's Model S and Model X or BYD's e6 crossover. Because the government looking to speed up EV adoption in order to take on worsening urban pollution problems, the 10-hour rule may be eliminated as soon as next June.
South Korea is among the world's six most valuable countries in terms of advance reservations for Tesla's lower-priced Model 3, so there's already some momentum in EV adoption. The country also skews towards higher-end vehicle purchases, further enhancing South Korea's potential impact on global Tesla sales. Among South Korean automakers, Hyundai was the first to sell a mass-produced electric vehicle when it debuted the Ioniq EV earlier this year.
There are only about 4,000 electric vehicles on South Korea's roads today, but the government aims to almost triple the country's number of fast chargers to 2,000 next year in preparation for many more.
As for Tesla, the California-based automaker is on the verge of opening up South Korea's first Tesla showroom. The facility is slated to open by the end of the year.