(News Focus) Seoul Motor Show to offer glimpse of future technology
By Choi Kyong-ae
SEOUL, March 20 (Yonhap) -- After suffering from a lack of all-new models and lackluster participation by global carmakers for years, the upcoming Seoul Motor Show is set to showcase critical auto technologies moving forward.
The motor show is South Korea's sole motor exhibition acknowledged by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), but it has not been able to motivate big name foreign carmakers to highlight new vehicles since they did not see big growth potential in South Korea, a 1.8 million-vehicle market.
For this year, through extensive promotional efforts, the biennial Seoul Motor Show, will allow more visitors to experience a line of brand new electric and self-driving cars, according to the Organizing Committee for Seoul Motor Show.
The exhibit kicks off on March 31 and lasts through April 9 at KINTEX exhibition hall in Ilsan, just northwest of Seoul.
"This year, the show is designed to take a step closer to visitors, particularly those with their children. It is a unique opportunity for them to learn what efficient and reliable driving is all about," an official from the committee said.
This rendering offered by Ssangyong Motor Co. on March 13, 2017, shows the carmaker's flagship sport-utility vehicle Y400 which will be unveiled during the Seoul Motor Show at KINTEX exhibition hall in Ilsan, just north of Seoul. (Yonhap)
In the past decade, carmakers have competed with each other by introducing vehicles equipped with more fuel-efficient, cutting-edge technologies. They have built more charging stations for all-electric cars for a bigger share in major markets.
To further help visitors experience the future of car technology, autonomous cars will be available for test rides on the sidelines of the show, with Hyundai Motor Co., GM Korea Co. and Renault Samsung Motors Co. offering the Ioniq pure electric vehicle, Bolt EV and SM3 Z.E., respectively, he said.
Naver, the operator of Korea's most popular search engine, will take part in the auto show for the first time. It plans to unveil its latest self-driving car and demonstrate how it collects required data to permit a car to move on the road without a driver.
Under the slogan "Design the future, Enjoy the moment," 27 carmakers, including nine from South Korea and 18 from abroad, plan to present a combined 300 models at this year's event.
But, Tesla Motors, a U.S. electric car maker, has decided not to participate in the show, according to the committee. It has recently opened its first showroom in South Korea.
The models that will steal the spotlight include two world premieres by Hyundai Motor and Ssangyong Motor. Sixteen cars will have their Asian premieres.
Hyundai Motor plans to unveil a gasoline hybrid model based on the new Grandeur large-size sedan and Ssangyong Motor plans to release a large sport-utility vehicle "Y400" for their world premieres. Kia's much-hyped Stinger sports sedan will be introduced for the first time in Asia.
"The combination of vehicles and latest technologies of infotainment will pick up speed over time," said Kim Tae-nyen, executive managing director of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA).
High-performance and luxury carmakers prefer to attend global motor shows to the Seoul Motor Show. So the organizing committee needs to develop the gathering into a venue where visitors can come across future-technology vehicles more readily, he said.
In this photo taken on Feb. 22, 2017, and provided by Kia Motors Corp., the Stinger sports sedan is running on an icy road of a rural county in Sweden as part of cold-weather testing. (Yonhap)