[THE INVESTOR] Tesla Motors has begun taking online reservations here for its electric cars, Model S, Model X, and Model 3, the company said Aug. 19, making its sales operation in Korea official for first time.
With a deposit of 2 million won ($1,800) for the Model S, 5 million won for Model X and 1 million won for model 3, customers can make a reservation, it said in the first statement released for the Korean press.
“Korean customers have already shown a great interest in Tesla through reservations for Model 3,” it said. The model 3 is a Tesla electric vehicle that will be available starting at $35,000 in 2017. It didn‘t specify the retail prices of the cars.
Test drives of the Model S in Korea will be available at its retail stores and events at the end of this year, the US carmaker said without naming the location of stores. The model X will be showcased at the beginning of 2017, it added.
Official homepage of Tesla Motors in Korean
It has been reported that Tesla may open flagship stores in Korea. Along with the store in Shinsegae’s Starfield Hanam in Gyeonggi Province, which is set to open in September, other possibilities are Samseong-dong in Gangnam and Lotte World Tower in Jamsil. Local reports have speculated that the stores will open sometime in October.
According to industry officials, Tesla has been hiring locally for its sales operation, technical support and marketing. It has set up a limited company in Samseong-dong.
Despite the heightened interest in the US carmaker’s official market debut here, some have pointed out that the company needs to pay more attention when dealing with local customers.
The Korean version of Tesla’s homepage used a map that labeled the East Sea as the Sea of Japan. It could spark a backlash here as the issue has been at the center of a lengthy territorial dispute between Seoul and Tokyo.
Last year, a country manager of Swedish furniture giant IKEA in South Korea apologized for calling the East Sea the Sea of Japan, after public criticism.
By Cho Chung-un/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)