Tesla Tests Autopilot System In Seoul Before Starting Operations In South Korea

Aug 24, 2016 07:55 AM EDT | Sovan Mandal

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Tesla has officially launched in South Korea. With this, its range of electric vehicles comprising of the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 are now on pre-order in the country. This follows months of preparations that included recruitment of staff along with setting up of the office.

As reported by Electrek, Tesla has already been accepting pre-orders for the Model 3 in South Korea since the launch of the car in March 2016. The response generated was enough for the American automaker to rush with its South Korea plans. That it also happens to be the 11 biggest car market in the world is also another reason South Korea figures prominently in Tesla's global expansion plans.

In preparation of the formal roll-out of the vehicles, Tesla has also started testing the autopilot system of the car. According to Teslarati, it is the latest Model S P90D sedan that is being put through its paces in Seoul. The company is in the process of fine-tuning its autopilot system before prospective customers get to test drive the cars, which is likely to happen towards the end of the year.

As is evident in the Electrek report, Tesla will also have to tread cautiously so as to not end up in the middle of any political soup. An instance cited is that of a map on the Tesla homepage that wrongly depicted what is known locally as the East Sea as the Sea of Japan. This does have the potential to send the wrong message to the locals given the long-standing territorial dispute that South Korea has with Japan.

Another hurdle for Tesla to overcome before a full-fledged launch of the Tesla cars in South Korea is the lack of Supercharger stations in the country. As such, the automaker will have to rely on existing charging network at the moment, which again could entail developing special adapters to ensure compatibility with the Tesla cars.

The launch of Model S and Model X in the country is expected sometime next year though it remains to be seen when the more affordable Model 3 arrives onto the scene. Tesla expects to launch the Model 3 in the US towards end-2017.

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