Tesla Motors Inc Sets Eyes On South Korea

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We reported in November 2013 that Tesla was considering expanding to South Korea. However, the Elon Musk-led company was facing production constraints at the time. Now that the electric vehicle maker has ramped up production by adding a second line, the company is all set to enter the Korean market.

Tesla’s job posting hints at Korea ambitions

According to Kirsten Korosec of Fortune, Tesla has posted a job for the position of VP-Sales, Japan and Korea. The job posting hints that the Palo Alto-based company is finally looking to enter Korea, after having forayed into China, Japan and Hong Kong. The job description reads, “Our Vice President, Sales- Japan and Korea will be focused on all of Tesla’s direct sales activities in the Japanese and Korean markets, ensuring the attainment of both short and long term sales objectives..”

Tesla is currently building its Supercharger network and other infrastructure in China, Japan, and Hong Kong. The company has said it wanted to expand in Asia as quickly as possible. Tesla entered China in April 2014, and started delivering Model S to customers in Japan in fall 2014. Sales in China have grown slower than expected, largely due to poor infrastructure.

Korea unlikely to move the needle for Tesla

Jefferies analyst Dan Dolev believes that concerns about China sales are overblown. Tesla founder Elon Musk aims to sell 500,000 vehicles annually by 2020. Dolev believes Tesla could easily achieve that target from North America and Europe alone. However, dominating the Chinese electric vehicle market remains one of Tesla’s biggest long-term goals. The company is aggressively building out infrastructure in China.

Talking about South Korea, the Jefferies analyst said Korea is more like Norway, which has a population of about 5 million. Tesla’s Model S was the top-selling car in Norway last year. A market like Norway can’t move the needle. Though South Korea’s population is 10 times bigger than Norway, China will be the biggest prize for Tesla, says Dolev.

Tesla shares fell 0.35% to $258.25 at 11:01 AM EDT on Monday.

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