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Tesla’s $25K car will force EV rivals to make painful sacrifices: industry experts

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Industry experts from South Korea have noted that Tesla’s upcoming $25,0000 vehicle, which is expected to debut in about three years, will likely force the hand of the company’s domestic rivals. With such a vehicle in the market, automakers like Hyundai and Kia would have to come up with comparably-priced electric cars that could compete with Tesla in terms of price and features. Such initiatives would require vast resources to pull off. 

In a statement to The Korea Bizwire, the industry experts noted that local EV manufacturers would likely need about four or five years to come up with a vehicle that’s on par with Tesla’s $25,000 car. Elon Musk has noted that the $25,000 Tesla will still feature great performance and tech like the company’s existing S3XY vehicle lineup. That’s a pretty high bar for rivals to meet, considering Tesla’s battery and tech advantage. 

Current average market prices of EVs in South Korea excluding subsidies range between 45.6-48.8 million won (about $38,900-$41,600) for medium-sized models and about 39.2 million to 41.7 million won for smaller cars. With this in mind, the idea of a premium EV priced below 30 million won would likely be possible only if South Korean battery makers like LG Chem decide to match their prices with Tesla. 

If domestic battery suppliers are unable to offer this, countries like South Korea would likely have to deal with an EV market that’s dominated by Tesla’s $25,000 car. In a statement to the publication, Lee Hang-gu, a senior researcher at the Korea Automotive Technology Institute, noted that companies like Hyundai, which already have an EV program, could see losses if they cut production costs to a level that matches Tesla. 

“Hyundai Motor will lose 12 trillion won if domestic car makers cut production costs by 30 to 40 percent to compete with Tesla,” Lee said. 

The upcoming arrival of Tesla’s $25,000 car may end up fostering innovation among its domestic rivals as well. Kwon Soon-woo, a researcher at SK Securities Co, explained that local electric car makers could catch up to Tesla’s price and level, but the automakers would have to sacrifice their profits in exchange for rapid technical breakthroughs in the coming years. But even then, Tesla’s $25,000 vehicle would still likely beat its rivals to market. 

“If automakers sacrifice profits in exchange for a breakthrough in the market, EVs that cost less than 30 million won may be available in four to five years,” Kwon said. 

Tesla’s $25,000 car has captured the interest of the EV market simply because such a vehicle could effectively transform Tesla into one of the most dominant automakers in the industry. With its price, Tesla would be able to cater to a much wider demographic than before, allowing the company to render even affordable ICE cars irrelevant. Such a vehicle may very well be successful in locations like South Korea and other surrounding Asian countries where affordable, practical vehicles are preferred. 

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