Not Chinese, but Korean electric cars are conquering Europe

Not Chinese, but Korean electric cars are conquering Europe
Not Chinese, but Korean electric cars are conquering Europe

The Koreans are strengthening their positions

In just the past few years, the European car market has really been flooded by Chinese manufacturers – now there are more than a dozen of them across the country. From BYD, Geely or Great Wall Motors, the names familiar to car enthusiasts, to Xpeng, formerly owned by the British MG or NIO. The scale of sales of Chinese vehicles is increasing, but similar to the number of electric cars in Lithuania: at first glance, the growth is huge, they sometimes increase every year, but when you look at the wider picture, you can see that it is just a drop in the ocean.

“Automotive News” writes that at the end of last year, all Chinese brands together did not cover even 3%. market share. In Europe, local manufacturers continue to reign, the Japanese have established their niche, but the Koreans are expanding rapidly. For example, the Hyundai-Kia concern was the only one whose sales did not fall after the pandemic, but continued to grow. “Kia” entered the top ten of the most popular brands in Europe for the first time, establishing itself in 9th place.

According to JATO Dynamics, 2023 was a successful year for almost all manufacturers operating in Europe, as the market began to recover and new car deliveries returned to normal. The sales indicators of manufacturers did not reach the level of pre-pandemic 2019, but increased.

Nevertheless, Korean brands have not only not lost their positions gained during the pandemic, but have strengthened them even more. Last year, Hyundai sold 534,000 vehicles in Europe. new cars and increased by 3.1 percent, and 572 thousand Kia, which sold vehicles, increased by 5.4 percent.

At that time, DataCenter data shows that Kia registered even higher records in Lithuania. Last year, it sold 2,041 new cars in our country, which is as much as 34 percent. more than in 2022. 7 percent Having conquered the Lithuanian new car market, Kia rose to the fourth place in the list of the most popular brands and began chasing the top three, which has been dominated by the same brands for many years: Toyota, Škoda and Volkswagen.

Manufacturers that have made the most progress

Vitoldas Milius, the editor-in-chief of Auto Bild Lietuva magazine, points out that the Korean automobile industry appeared later than many of its competitors, so instead of creating something new, the Koreans took the best from everyone and applied it to their models. And he did that quite successfully.

“Of course, they also want to divorce. Since it doesn’t have a distinctive face, it can freely experiment with design, so it shoots oddities. But overall, the progress is surprising. The progress of other manufacturers was even, gentle, Honda remained as it was, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen or others remained themselves, and the old Korean and the new Kia EV6 are completely incomparable, different worlds “, – why could Europe and Lithuanians like Korean cars, comments the interviewer.

The “workhorse” of Korean cars used to be a low price and abundant equipment. In the last decade, quality has also appeared, and Kia was the first to confirm it with an unprecedented 7-year warranty on all new models in Europe. Introduced more than 20 years ago, the Kia Sportage could only entice buyers with a very attractive price, and now it is technologically advanced, comfortable and one of the best-selling family crossovers.

Not only that, but the Koreans are also one of the leaders in the electric car market: most of the legacy manufacturers develop electric cars with 400V electrical systems, and Hyundai-Kia’s E-GMP platform is adapted to an 800V electrical system, so the affordable Kia EV6 model or the extremely spacious seven-seater The EV9 electric car has the charging speed characteristics that only Porsche electric cars can match, and it also surpasses them in terms of performance.

“Koreans invest a lot in consumer-relevant technologies. For example, the integration of smart devices into multimedia or Kia’s blind spot camera when turning turns comes in handy every day. A good innovation, which for some reason the smart Germans did not think of. Koreans used to copy technology, but now they are creating it themselves and trying to adapt to the lifestyle of consumers. As for the budget and medium segment, they are currently one of the leaders”, comments Vytenis Kudarauskas, host of the TV show “Autopilotas”.

She reaps her laurels

The fact that the Koreans have made great progress in developing electric cars is also reflected in the evaluations of European experts. In 2022, the Kia EV6 became the European Car of the Year, in 2024, the Kia EV9 won the title of Top Gear magazine’s Family Car of the Year and was among the seven finalists for the European Car of the Year.

In the annual selection of the best cars by category by the British magazine “What Car?”, Kia triumphed four times. “What Car?” is distinguished by the fact that it evaluates not only the new models that appeared in the last year, but all those on the market, so the Kia Sportage was chosen as the Family Car of the Year for the second time in a row.

The Kia EV6 has been named the best electric family crossover, while the new EV9 has been named the best seven-seater overall. Finally, the brand received an award for the best model range suitable for towing trailers.

“Korean cars are now high-quality, well-equipped, technologically advanced, but I think the secret of their success is somewhat different: uncemented values ​​allow them to be flexible and creative. Design and technology centers in Europe help to create the kind of models that we Europeans want.

They know which should be more boring, which aspects of the car can be experimented with, and where to use time-tested discoveries. As a result, Koreans know how to offer cars to everyone according to taste. Some are boring, others are perhaps a bit eye-catching, others fascinate with interesting solutions or driving characteristics, but rarely can you find anything bad about them”, emphasizes Egidijus Babelis, the author of Keturi Ratai magazine.

The article is in Lithuanian

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