While the automaker is the biggest in the country and an early adopter of electric cars that draw their power from fuel cells, it decided to opt out of being present at the nation’s first dedicated expo for electric vehicles.
With its first battery electric vehicle not ready until 2016, Hyundai decided to spread its research in green technology by focusing on fuel cells and its smaller affiliate – Kia, attack the usual EV market with the new Soul EV.
“Hyundai has always been somewhat hesitant in developing eco-friendly cars,” said Kim Pill Soo, a professor of automotive engineering at South Korea’s Daelim College and adviser to the government. “For the next two or three years, Hyundai will have no choice but to just sit tight and watch its competitors have a party.”
The lack of Hyundai response in the segment leaves foreign brands striving to catch the South Korean consumers that seek an environmentally friendly vehicle, with the first International Electric Vehicle Expo dominated by BMW, Nissan or Renault.
The show, held on the resort island of Jeju and set up by Korea’s trade and environment ministries will see BMW displaying the new i3 all-electric car, Nissan showcase the world’s best selling electric car, the Leaf, general Motors showcase the US made Chevrolet Spark EV and the local unit of Renault bring its own models.