A New Tesla Car Will Be First Released in Korea in 2016?

There are reports recently from Korea and China saying that Tesla is releasing a “Model E” in Jeju Island of Korea in 2016. The information online indicated that the price would be $35,655 before government incentives and the car could drive up to 320 km (equals to 198.8 miles) with a 48 kWh battery equipped.

The price and mileage disclosed resembles the expected specs for the upcoming Tesla Model 3, which will be shown to the public in March 2016 (probably during the Geneva Motor Show) and start production in 2017 according to the CEO Elon Musk. The battery of Model 3 is largely speculated at 50-60 kWh at this point to our best knowledge and may come from Tesla Gigafactory.

Tesla in 2014 considered naming its Gen III model as Model E and filed a trademark application. However, later the company abandoned the application. Ford filed a similar application to trademark Model E a few months after Tesla and sticks with the application later on. Tesla then named the new car Model 3 (maybe with three horizontal bars to represent).

So, can the “Model E” for Jeju be the “Model 3”? Regarding the trademark registration, US and Korea both are members of the Madrid Protocol treaty, which permits the holders of US applications and/or registrations to extend their rights to more than 80 country members. The trademark applicants do need to fill requests for this extension through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In this regard, a different company could still have trademarked Model E in Korea.

We will be waiting for official information from Tesla and maybe its Korean office – Tesla Korea Limited (which was registered on Nov. 13, 2015) After all, one report on the Jeju “Model E” mentioned also that the car would be released in the US and other countries in early 2016 as well, and the “Model E” photo in that report looked like Tesla Model X indeed. Or maybe the wording “release” in the report simply meant the start of taking orders. This would agree with the timeline Elon Musk has conveyed.  Regardless, it would be interesting to see how close the numbers – $35,655 for the price and 48 kWh for the battery energy – can be to those of Model 3 after the car comes out.

Korea can be an important market for Tesla. The CTO JB Straubel in November 2015 described that Tesla was “committed” to and saw a “great potential” in this market, during the Energy Korea Forum. A Model 3 crossover and a Model Y may also be in the pipeline.

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