Renault Samsung Motors all electric car SM3 ZE to be launched in South Korea next year

South Korean car manufacturer, Renault Samsung Motors has announced to launch their all electric car SM3 ZE by the end of next year in the Korean car industry. Car manufacturers have shown interest in bringing all electric cars to Korea due to increased demand for environmentally friendly car, thanks to rising fuel prices, which has resulted in a drop in demand for petrol and diesel run vehicles.

Electric vehicles are gaining importance in recent times. Auto makers are looking to launch all electric vehicles but it is the lack of quick charging stations that is holding them back. The good news here is that the South Korean government will be installing 150,000 charging stations over the next 4 years, which will boost electric car sales even further. Renault Samsung Motors will be staking all on mass production of electric vehicles from next year for the nascent markets in Korea.

It was in May/June that the company showcased some high end technologies in their first electric car model SM3 ZE at the 2012 Busan International Motor Show. The company offers test drives on their vehicles and is set to enter the electric vehicle market by end of 2012 and early 2013. SM3 ZE can travel upto 160 kms on a 250 kg lithium ion battery that can be recharged at a fully automated battery station in less than 90 seconds. This vehicle is drawing a great deal of attention in the market recently.

As a pilot program, Renault Samsung plans on launching 500 units of SM3 ZE with a price of KRW 64 million ($55,481), which includes KRW 15 million government subsidy on all electric cars, for private organizations. Apart from that, they will also assist in leasing battery of the electric car, which is very expensive. Mr Lee Sang-tae, Deputy Overseas Program Director, Renault Samsung, said, “We will have customers pay for the battery on a lease program to help ease their initial burden in purchasing the car. The final sticker price will be determined depending on what the government’s subsidies are for customers.”

24 kW lithium-ion polymer battery of SM3 ZE costs KRW 24 million ($20,803) and is manufactured by LG Chem, who also manufacture battery of Chevrolet Volt. Mr Lee hopes that if the price of battery is somehow lowered, then price of their car will too be lowered.

Currently, the few charging stations in S Korea are owned by Hyundai Kia for their BlueOn and Ray electric cars, which belong to the government. Hyundai and Kia both plan on launching all electric cars in the near future. Kia Ray is expected to go on sale for general customer from mid 2013 while Hyundai plans on introducing compact sized electric car by 2014.

Renault Samsung Motors is owned by French car maker Renault and South Korea’s electronics giant Samsung. Renault owns 80.1% while Samsung Card owns 19.9% stake in Renault Samsung Motors.