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South Koreans catch Tesla fever

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07/08/2020 | 01:53am EDT

Teslas are having a moment in South Korea, where it's become a new social status symbol on wheels.

That's especially the case among tech-savvy professionals like Kang Sung-Mo.

The 39-year-old bought his Tesla in December, ditching the Hyundai he just bought last summer.

"I am not interested in cars, but I am interested in the Tesla brand. So, I had ordered this Tesla model 3 just after it was released in South Korea."

Tesla also has the glow of a local celebrity.

Orders surged after popular actor Yoo Ah-in drove his Tesla Model X SUV on a reality show episode last month.

Tesla also saw its best month in South Korea this June, selling nearly 3,000 cars.

The Tesla Model 3 is now the number two imported vehicle after the Mercedes S-Class.

A source told Reuters another 4 to 5,000 South Koreans have the Model 3 on order, though they may have to wait until at least September for delivery.

Last week Tesla also surpassed Toyota as the world's most valuable automaker.

Meanwhile Hyundai, South Korea's top automaker, saw sales its own electric vehicle, the Kona, fall by a third.

And - analyst Song Sun-jae says -- South Korea's power grid makes it the perfect testing ground for Tesla vehicles.

"It is also a good market for testing as there are many consumers who consider cars as electronics, not just as a machine."

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
HYUNDAI CORPORATION -1.03% 14450 End-of-day quote.-19.27%
TESLA, INC. 1.83% 1650.71 Delayed Quote.294.60%
TOYOTA INDUSTRIES CORPORATION -0.32% 6160 End-of-day quote.-2.69%
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