March 4, 2024

Tesla car chargers in Korea

Only 10% of EV chargers in Korea are fast chargers, according to the International Energy Agency
Image: Kim Hong-Ji (Reuters)

Tesla sold only one car this January in South Korea, according to new data, as consumers there remain concerned with inflation and Elon Musk’s EV company continues to deal with a lack of chargers in the country.

It was the worst month for Tesla in South Korea since July 2022, when it sold zero cars there, according to data from research group Carisyou and the Korean trade ministry first reported by Bloomberg.

The one car that was sold in January was a Tesla Model Y, which last September was South Korea’s best-selling imported car. All electric vehicle sales in South Korea suffered in January. New EV registrations in the country plunged 80% month-over-month, Bloomberg reports.

Demand has slowed as the country grapples with inflation. The full-year inflation in South Korea was 3.6% in December.

Consumers are also concerned about battery fires after a EV battery exploded in an apartment parking lot in 2022. A November survey by the Korea Transportation Safety Authority found that about half of EV owners said fires are their biggest safety concern.

There’s also a lack of fast EV chargers in the country. About 90% of public chargers are slow chargers, according to the International Energy Agency.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a company spokesperson told Bloomberg that South Korea sales are usually slow in January as consumers wait for government subsidies to be announced.

More Trouble for Tesla

The news adds to Tesla’s woes to start 2024. Following two different recalls and a production pause at a factory in Germany, Tesla fell 25% in just the first few weeks of the year. Tesla is the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 in 2024 so far, and the company’s market value has shrunk to $589 billion, from $754 billion in Jan. 05.

The falling market cap has also threatened Musk’s status as richest person in the world.

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