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Meet South Korea's Newest Automaker

6 Avril 2015 - Automotive News

Meet South Korea's Newest Automaker

Cony Motor Co. doesn’t have a factory or a single customer. Its vehicles aren’t even street-legal yet.

But South Korea’s youngest would-be automaker -- at less than a year old -- just splurged on a front-and-center stand at the country’s premier auto show, right next to Bentley no less.

The audacious startup hopes its prime and pricey position at the Seoul Motor Show will spur interest from investors and potential partners, COO Choi Jong Youn says.

Its bold ambition: Sell mini-pickups, powered by pint-size diesel engines or electric motors, in Korea, Latin America, Africa and beyond. It hopes to begin sales by mid-2016.

The trucks are funky little retro-styled two-seaters with flared fenders, mini-running boards and pie-pan wheels.

The diesel versions, starting around $8,000, are powered by either a two- or three-cylinder engine. The all-electric models would start at $15,000, with the top battery trim package delivering a range of 310 kilometers (193 miles) on a full charge. Cony’s literature offers no specs on cargo capacity or hauling power.

Choi, a former executive at South Korea’s also-ran Ssangyong Motor, founded the company last June with a group of engineers.

Cony’s quirky name? Derived from coniglio, Italian for rabbit. “Our designer traveled a lot to Italy,” Choi says.

Cony’s maneuver to rub shoulders with the big boys at the Seoul show suggests an optimistic -- perhaps overly so -- detachment from reality. The same might be said of its future product roadmap.

“We plan to unveil various follow-up models,” Cony’s press release promises, “including an electric compact truck, mini bus, passenger car, a city commuter, an electric taxi model and a mid-sized bus.”

Cony wasn’t the only wannabe taking the stage in Seoul. Electric sports car hopeful Detroit Electric was also on hand.

The Seoul Motor Show, which opens to the public today, has been held biennially since 1995. This year, 32 auto brands and 131 parts and accessory makers are scheduled to exhibit.

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