Tesla is preparing to enter the Korean market in May following the South Korean government’s approval.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport completed Tesla’s registration, which was first submitted for certification in December.
Tesla said it will be ready to begin Korean sales in May, and will establish Tesla service centers.
These company-run service centers will be in charge of core functions including maintenance, while exterior repairs will go to outside subcontractors. The service centers will also offer charging stations and will oversee Tesla autonomous driving features.
Auto executives see Tesla’s move as an important part of Korea creating an eco-friendly car market. Tesla electric vehicles will compete with electrified vehicles such as Hyundai’s Grandeur, Sonata, and Ionic models, and the Kia Niro.
Korea’s domestic hybrid and electric market sold a total of 68,774 cars last year, compared to 41,956 in 2015. The increase marked the highest proportional rise worldwide, according to The Korea Herald.
Leading Chinese electric carmaker BYD plans to enter the Korean market to compete with Tesla and Hyundai. BYD reportedly applied for registration with the Transport Ministry. The ministry said BYD should win approval next week.
The company created its local corporate entity, BYD Korea Co., last October.
Tesla went into talks last year to set up a Tesla store at what has become South Korea’s largest shopping mall, according to the shopping complex’s owner, Shinsegae Group.
The two parties negotiated over an outlet at Starfield Hanam, which opened in September. The giant, four-story complex is located about six miles east of Seoul. Shinsegae Group owns Shinsegae Co. and E-MART Inc. and is South Korea’s second-largest retail conglomerate, behind Lotte Group.