International Update

Korean Automotive Industry Rapidly Shifting to Electric Vehicles

31 July 2023 #International Update

South Korea’s automobile production and sales structure is rapidly shifting to electric vehicles (BEV +PHEV+FCEV). Last year, Korea produced more than 400,000 electric vehicles, and exports reached 267,000 units. In Korea, the world’s fifth-largest automobile producer, the proportion of electric vehicles among automobile production reached 11%, indicating that the structure of the automobile industry is rapidly shifting to electric vehicles. The share of electric vehicles in total vehicle exports was 11.6%, which was higher than its share in production.

Hyundai Motor Group was recorded as the world’s 5th largest electric car seller last year, following BYD, Tesla, VW and Stellantis. Hyundai Motor Group plans to increase production and sales of electric vehicles to more than 3 million units by 2030. Accordingly, Hyundai Motor Group is expanding investments related to electric vehicle production not only in Korea but also around the world. Korea plays an important role in EV development. The GM Technical Center Korea (GMTCK) played a leading role in the development of the GM electric vehicle Volt, and continues to cooperate with various entities in the development of GM electric vehicles. KG Mobility (formerly Ssangyong Motors) plans to develop its own electric vehicle platform and produce electric vehicles, and Renault Korea also plans to develop and produce electric vehicles in Korea.

Electric vehicles are built on an electric vehicle platform, and major electric vehicle-related parts are installed on the platform. Hyundai Motor’s electric vehicle platform, Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), is equipped with a Power Electric (PE) system composed of a motor, EV transmission, inverter, etc., a charging system, and a battery system. Electric vehicles require a speed reducer, a thermal management system, and tires. The most important parts related to electric vehicles, such as batteries, motors, and inverters, are produced by existing electric industry-related companies in Korea. Existing auto parts makers are responsible for the control devices, cases, and assemblies that necessary to apply these major parts to automobiles. Batteries are brought from a battery cell manufacturer in the form of cells or modules, assembled in a pack form, and mounted on a vehicle together with a control system (BMS), various switches, electric current sensors, and cooling systems.

Korea owns world-class battery cell companies such as LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI, and SK On. The overall battery system is managed by Hyundai Mobis, but the production of parts such as pack assembly and related cases is mainly entrusted to existing auto parts companies. Motors are produced by Hyundai Mobis, LG Electronics, and S&T Motiv, and related core parts are also produced by Korean companies. The drive motor core, an important component of drive motors, is produced by POSCO International, which aims to become the world’s No. 1 company with a global market share of 20% by 2025. LG C&S produces Enamel Wire for drive motors. The heat management system and air conditioning are handled by Hanon Systems, the heating system is produced by PCT heaters, and the air conditioner hose and coolant hose, which are major components, are produced by Hwaseung R&A. Hankook Tire develops and supplies tires suitable for electric vehicles, and SL is in charge of LED lamps used in electric vehicles. Korean electric car parts makers are supplying parts not only to Korean electric car makers but also to global automakers.

For further information on how UK companies can expand business to S.Korea, Kotra London is hosting a free seminar in London in Oct 2023. Please email for details.

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