The largest-ever Seoul Motor Show will start its 11-day run next week at KINTEX in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. At the trade fair, 331 firms from 13 countries will show off their newest creations and compete for attention among the expected 1.2 million visitors, a 20 percent jump from last year. But some are concerned that despite the size, it lacks brand-new vehicles meant to wow those who come to the show.
◆ Domestic Brands vs. Imports
This year, some nine automakers and 20 importers will join the friendly competition by putting their flagship models on display. Toyota's lineup includes the Avalon sedan, new LAV 4 SUV and FJ Cruiser, while its high-end brand Lexus plans to show off the IS.
Top luxury brand BMW will unveil the 3-series GT and the M6 Gran Coupe, and its European competitor Mercedes-Benz's focus is the A-class, its smallest sedan that will soon premiere in the Korean market.
Volkswagen's new Golf is also grabbing attention ahead of its debut here as is the Volvo i40, known for outdoor airbags that protect pedestrians in the event of a collision.
Korean companies plan to bring innovative models to the show as well. Hyundai Motor will show the Avante Coupe, scheduled to be launched as early as next month, along with the impressive Equus Hermes in collaboration with the French luxury brand and the i40 art car decorated by world-famous industrial designer Karim Rashid. Also on its list are the i20 world rally car and the Genesis Coupe racing car.
Affiliate Kia Motors will introduce visitors to its K3 five-door hatchback before it hits showrooms in the second half of this year and the new Carens.
Ssangyong Motor hopes to impress with the LIV-1, a premium SUV concept car, and Renault Samsung has prepared a compact SUV called Capture, or QM3 in Korea.
Among all the products on display, car enthusiasts are expected to be especially interested in eco-friendly and concept cars, and top manufacturers will not disappoint.
Hyundai will have its world premiere of the HND-9 luxury sports coupe and Lexus will display the flamboyantly designed LF-LC. With emissions in mind, Toyota will showcase the FT-Bh compact hybrid that boasts fuel efficiency of 48 km/l.
◆ Concerns Raised
In terms of the size of the venue and the numbers of participating companies and visitors, it’s easy to assume the motor show will be a smash hit. Yet some are raising concerns that there are far fewer new cars on display compared to overseas events.
In total, the organizing committee promises nine world premieres, but four are commercial tractors or dump trucks and all but one -- Ssangyong's W Summit -- are not for mass production. As for foreign brands, all cars have either been displayed overseas or are already on sale outside Korea.
An organizing committee spokesman said that a number of events will take place on the sidelines to ensure that all visitors are entertained. These include seminars and an awards ceremony for winning university students from a car design competition.
Hyundai also plans to throw a party for more than 1,000 young drivers with performances by famous bands such as Epik High and Daybreak.