Mar 31, 2017
Renault Samsung Motors introduces its French parent company's flagship hatchback Clio at the Seoul Motor Show. Korea's biggest auto event runs through April 9 at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi. [RENAULT SAMSUNG MOTORS]
Eco-friendly is the buzzword at Korea's biggest auto event
The Seoul Motor Show
, which kicks off today, is giving visitors a peek at what Korean roads might look like in the near future.
Eco-friendly vehicles are taking center stage at this year's show, while high-performance and concept cars are giving the event an extra kick. According to the organizer, 20 percent of the 243 models on display are environmentally friendly.
Hyundai Motor is premiering a hybrid version of its flagship premium sedan, the Grandeur IG. It's also unveiling a concept vehicle of its FE Fuel Cell model in its Asian debut.
The hybrid Grandeur boasts fuel efficiency of 16.2 kilometers per liter (38.1 miles per gallon) while the gasoline engine version has 11.2 kilometers per liter.
Hyundai Motor is also presenting its idea of future mobility, what it calls “Smart House,” where vehicles will be hyper-connected to all aspects of our daily lives. Such technology will be available through its self-developed platform called Connected Car Service Platform. The company said it is planning to enable compatibility with other platforms like those developed by Google and Amazon.
“Hyundai Motor aims to suggest a connected and smart lifestyle based on connected car technology,” said Yang Woong-chul, a vice president at Hyundai Motor, during a press briefing on Thursday.
Yang showcased what the company is calling “Home to Car,” where a driver can remotely control a car from one's home and check the car's location through a voice-recognition device. Hyundai Motor said it would introduce the technology in 2018.
The inverse “Car to Home” technology allows drivers to remotely control home appliances like lights and sound systems from inside the car. That technology will be introduced in 2019.
From left: SsangYong Motor CEO Choi Johng-sik, second from right, next to the G4 Rexton; Kia Motors' premium Stinger sports sedan; and the hybrid version of Hyundai Motor's Grandeur IG. [EACH COMPANY/YONHAP]
Kia Motors introduced its premium Stinger sports sedan, topped with an emblem that will solely be used for the new model. The nation's No. 2 automaker said it was part of efforts to expand its premium lineup.
“The Stinger, a premium performance sedan, is the culmination of Kia Motors' design capacity and high tech,” said Park Han-woo, president of Kia Motors, during a briefing where Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors' chief design officer, was also present. “Kia Motors is going to expand premium rear-wheel-drive vehicle models to build up on our competitiveness in the premium auto market.”
The Stinger takes 4.9 seconds to accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour.
Hyundai Motor Group Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun made an appearance on Thursday and spent most of his time at the Genesis booth, holding a 40-minute meeting at its lounge. Genesis, the standalone premium brand of Hyundai Motor, set up its first independent booth this year.
SsangYong Motor, the Korean unit of Indian auto giant Mahindra & Mahindra, stole the spotlight during the media day by unveiling a large SUV model, the G4 Rexton. It is one of very few models getting their world premiere here.
“SsangYong stands firmly on its two feet. So today with great confidence and optimism, we launch the G4 Rexton,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group, who visited Korea for the motor show. “The success of the Tivoli [SsangYong's small SUV] was the key to turn around SsangYong and, happily for us, an outstanding success.”
Renault Samsung Motors CEO Park Dong-hoon pledged to be a “trend-setter” in Korea's auto industry. “We are not able to launch different models for each segment like our competitors do,” he said. “But we are going to break away from the set path to be a trend leader in the industry.”
Renault Samsung unveiled the Clio and Twizy during the show. The Clio is a hatchback model, a segment which is particularly unpopular in Korea. Twizy is a one-seat electric vehicle designed for urban mobility.
Import car brands also tried to steal the limelight with extravagant high-performance or concept vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz Korea revealed an AMG GT concept car for the first time in Asia. The vehicle can accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour in less than 3 seconds, according to the Korea CEO, Dimitris Psillakis. It also unveiled the new hybrid lineup of the C-350e and GLC-350e 4matic, both of which will launch in Korea in the latter half of the year.
To complete the E-Class lineup, the best-selling segment in Korea last year, Mercedes-Benz also unveiled the new E-Class Cabriolet and E-Class Coupe, also for the first time in the Asian market. The Coupe will launch in Korea in the summer, followed by the Cabriolet by the end of the year.
Japanese carmakers focused on hybrid vehicles.
Toyota revealed the Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid version of its flagship hybrid Prius, which according to the carmaker has enhanced fuel efficiency by 60 percent. The car can run 60 kilometers on an electric battery at a speed of 134 kilometers per hour.
Its luxury division Lexus unveiled the LC500h, a hybrid, and LF-LC, a hydrogen-powered concept car. The former's maximum horsepower is 359.
The Seoul Motor Show, Korea's biggest auto event, kicks off its 10-day run today at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi. The entrance fee is 10,000 won ($9) with discounts for children and senior citizens.