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Is North Korea’s New Electric Car a Game Changer or Just Smoke and Mirrors?

North Korea has a serious power shortage
Launching an electric vehicle?

North Korean Electric Vehicle.YouTube Channel KANCCTV

Fuel shortages are common in North Korea due to long-term economic sanctions and difficulties. The supply and demand of even coal, let alone gasoline, are not smooth. Accordingly, charcoal vehicles run on gas burned from waste wood in North Korea are still in operation today.

Recently, North Korea launched an advertisement for an electric vehicle, garnering global attention. The ad praises the vehicle’s sophisticated design and excellent driving range. However, it has sparked a flurry of skeptical reactions online questioning the practicality of such a vehicle in North Korea, with comments like, “Who will buy it?” and “North Korean residents can’t even turn on the lights, so who can drive an electric vehicle?”

YouTube Channel KANCCTV
YouTube Channel KANCCTV

Electric vehicles running in downtown Pyongyang
What is the identity of the exhibition hall where the electric vehicle arrived?

According to media reports on June 17, an electric vehicle with a North Korean brand appeared on the YouTube channel KANCCTV, which recently introduced North Korea-related videos. The Madusan Economic Federation was introduced through this channel, and the electric vehicle the company would sell appeared for about 30 seconds. The Madusan Economic Federation is a foreign trade organization established in 2018.

The electric vehicle in the video ran through downtown Pyongyang with a license plate that read Madusan Electric Vehicle. The place they arrived through the rain is believed to be the Madusan Electric Vehicle Exhibition Center, located on Hwaseong Street in Pyongyang. This exhibition hall became known in 2023 when a photo showing several BYD electric vehicles on display was posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo.

YouTube Channel KANCCTV
YouTube Channel KANCCTV

720 km (447 miles) Drive on One Full Charge
Likely to be False Specs

Meanwhile, the KANCCTV channel introduced the idea that the Madusan electric vehicle has a range of 720 km (447 miles) at a single full charge. The front and back of the car are similar to those of BYD’s large sedan, Han. By Chinese standards, BYD Han is equipped with an 85.4 kWh battery. He provides a maximum range of 512 km (318 miles), so the specifications of the Madusan electric vehicle are evaluated as somewhat exaggerated.

The video explained, “Madusan Electric Vehicle Technology Exchange is actively promoting the import and sale of electric vehicles through cooperation and exchange with influential overseas electric vehicle production and service companies.” Therefore, it seems more “likely that Madusan electric vehicles will be imported and sold rather than produced locally in North Korea.

BYD Han
BYD Han

Actual sales are expected to be difficult

There are predictions in the industry that the actual commercialization of Madusan electric vehicles will be difficult. This is because it is illegal for North Korea to import and sell BYD electric vehicles. According to UN resolutions 1718 and 2094 on sanctions against North Korea, exporting or transferring all means of transportation, including expensive vehicles considered luxury goods, to North Korea is prohibited. If BYD violates this, it may be banned entirely from entering the Korean market, which is currently being prepared, and overseas sales.

Moreover, as North Korea has suffered from a chronic power shortage, experts agree that the video was probably produced to promote the regime rather than sell electric vehicles.

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