Seoul Motor Show is Korea’s largest automotive fair but compared to prestigious global events in Geneva, Frankfurt and Detroit, it has been regarded as second tier.
In particular, criticism ran deep this year as a number of foreign brands including Audi, Volvo and Ford decided not to take part in the 12th edition of the biennial show.
The organizing committee for the 2019 Seoul Motor Show, however, prepared a surprise by bringing in high-the profile outfit Tesla for the first time ever.
Tesla was invited to the Seoul fair in 2015 and 2017 but refused. The U.S. company, which is famous for its environmentally friendly electric vehicles, has not been very active about participating in motor shows.
“The worsening air quality in the country is leading to higher demand for eco-friendly cars like electric vehicles. Hence, the Seoul Motor Show will move in that direction,” Yoon Dae-sung, vice chairman of the organizing committee, told a press conference on March 4, 2019. “Well aware of our focus, Tesla opted to take part.”
Committee Chairman Jeong Man-ki concurred.
“Tesla positively evaluated the prospects for Korea’s electric vehicle market. Its participation will be in line with the theme of this year’s event,” the former vice industry minister said.
Under the theme of Sustainable Connected Mobility, the 2019 motor show will see a total of 19 automakers including five domestic brands of Hyundai, Kia, GM Korea, Renault Samsung and SsangYong.
As well as Tesla, the two big German players Mercedes-Benz and BMW, as well as Toyota, will be at the event.
Jeong, concurrently chief of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, also predicted that half of the cars on the road will be autonomous models in about 15 years.
“The market will grow at an exponential pace,” he noted.
Around 100 cars will be on display including 22 new models at the 2019 Seoul Motor Show, which will open on March 29 at Kintex near Seoul to run 10 days through April 7.
A press meeting will take place on March 28.