Hyundai Motor is ready to launch the Kona EV in China as the purely electric SUV has been certified in China. The Korean automaker hopes to see a recovery in its sales as competitive new models, including the Kona EV, will be launched in the Chinese market.
Hyundai Motor's Kona (Chinese name Encino) EV has recently been included in a new car list announced by the Chinese government. Accordingly, the Kona EV is expected to go on sale in the Chinese market in the second half of this year. It usually takes about two months for an automaker to release a newly certified car to the market in China.
The appearance of the Kona EV to be launched in the Chinese market is not much different from the one selling in the Korean market. However, the Kona EV to be sold in China will run on batteries from China's CATL, while the Kona EV selling at home uses LG Chem batteries.
Hyundai has begun production of the Lingdung PHEV (Korean name: the Avante AD) along with the Kona EV. The Lingdung PHEV will go on sale in July at the earliest.
The two new models will beef up Hyundai Motor’s lineup of environment-friendly cars in China, which currently has only the Uiedung (Korean name: the Avante HD) and the Sonata Hybrid. Hyundai is also planning to launch the Lafesta EV model, a strategic model for the Chinese market, this year.
Hyundai's hurry to launch green cars in the Chinese market is intended to recover sales in China which have been shrinking since 2017. In the Chinese market of internal combustion engine-based cars, Hyundai Motor is sandwiched by global brands and local Chinese carmakers with strong price competitiveness. The Chinese electric car market is currently dominated by Chinese local brands. Hyundai has a chance of penetrating this market as it is ahead of Chinese companies in terms of technology and vehicle quality. In particular, the Kona EV was selected as one of the world’s top 10 engines by an American automobile media outlet. The car is drawing a lot of attention from consumers in China.
Moreover, the Chinese government has increased the proportion of new energy vehicle (NEV) credit requirements this year so automakers will be unable to avoid disadvantages unless they significantly increase green car sales in China. This change forced Hyundai Motor to focus on launching eco-friendly cars in China.
Beginning this year, local automakers in China have to fill 10 percent of their total production with environmentally-friendly cars and this percentage will rise to 12 percent next year. Beijing Hyundai's sales of green cars amounted to about 4,000 units, accounting for only 0.5 percent of its total sales in 2018.