China’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer BYD plans to enter the South Korea market this year, with the company having already scheduled meetings for next month with government departments to secure the relevant permits, according to local media reports.

South Korea is Asia’s second-largest market for imported vehicles after China, with just over 271,000 sales last year – mostly German and Japanese brands. The overall market is dominated by Hyundai and Kia, with an estimated 76% share of total vehicle sales.

The entry of one of China’s strongest automotive brands into South Korea would provide a significant challenge to domestic manufacturers, with price competition in the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle segments likely to increase significantly.

BYD is scheduled to meet with officials at South Korera’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in March to obtain environmental and safety certifications for its vehicles. Its battery electric vehicles (BEVs) would undergo local driving range, energy efficiency and battery safety tests in order to qualify for state subsidies.

Reports suggest this process normally takes up to three months, with BYD expected to launch its Atto 3 BEV by mid-2024 if there are no unforeseen delays. This compact SUV model has a range of 420km.

Data released this week by the Ministry of Transport shows BEV sales in South Korea amounted to 162,500 units last year, or 9.3% of the 1.74 million overall vehicle market, with sales expected to grow strongly in the coming years.

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