By Seonjin Cha
Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Renault Samsung Motors Co., Renault SA’s South Korean unit, plans to build and sell its first electric-car model in the domestic market as early as 2011.
Busan-based Renault Samsung and its parent are developing an electric car based on the SM3 small sedan, Alain Diboine, head of research & development at Renault Samsung, told reporters today in the city of Yongin. The company will introduce the model in South Korea as early as late 2011, he said.
Renault Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn is pitting electric cars from Renault and Japanese affiliate Nissan Motor Co. against a new generation of smaller, cheaper gasoline- electric hybrids from rivals including Toyota Motor Corp.
South Korean government support for fuel-efficient cars and a “strong” domestic battery industry present a “fantastic opportunity” for the carmaker in developing the electric model, Diboine said.
Renault Samsung agreed to cooperate with SK Energy Co. and SB LiMotive Co. for the electric car development, Renault Samsung’s Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marie Hurtiger said today.
The South Korean carmaker plans to introduce a fully revamped version of its flagship SM5 sedan in January to challenge Hyundai Motor Co.’s Sonata sedan in South Korea. It will export the sedan, a model sharing basic architecture with Renault’s Laguna, to global markets, the CEO said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Seonjin Cha in Seoul email@example.com