K-pop, fashion, film and ecofriendly cars: the 2015 Seoul Motor Show offers something for everyone
Ground-breaking, cutting-edge cars lovingly buffed and polished to perfection and displayed alongside equally buffed, polished, and perfect models. This is the typical image of a car show.
And if that’s your thing, the 2015 Seoul Motor Show (SMS) has you covered. Some 370 vehicles from over 30 different brands will be on display during the Show’s 10-day run from April 3 to April 12, 2015 at the Korea International Exhibition Center (KINTEX). But beyond the glitz and glamour of the cars and their accoutrements, the 2015 SMS offers much more to see and do for everyone.
In a first for the SMS, the Korea Federation of Textile Industries (KOFOTI) has been brought in to operate a car and fashion convergence zone which the event organizers say will help broaden the appeal of the SMS and bring about the convergence of different industries. In addition, Korean fashion brand “Critic” has invited owners of classic cars from around Korea to display their cars at the show and have matched these with special Critic fashions, much like gourmet foods are paired with fine wines.
K-POP STARS & CARS
Not all K-pop stars were at the SMS to perform, however. On April 3, the first public day of the Show, Choa (초아) from AOA (Ace of Angels) could be seen taking in the sights and sounds of the SMS as she visited several booths. Ssangyong Motor Company, which has been enjoying some unexpected but welcome success with its Tivoli SUV, looked to continue its resurgence by hosting several K-pop concerts at its booth including performances by acts such as EXID (Exceed In Dreaming), Raina, Used Cassettes, and Oopsnice. And like Ssangyong Motor Company itself, EXID have been enjoying an unexpected resurgence with their hit single, “Up & Down” (위아래 in Korean), which is approaching 17 million views on YouTube. Likewise, not all of the stars at the show were K-pop stars. GM Korea, which operates the Chevrolet brand in Korea, invited Former Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung (박지성) to the world premier launch of the next generation Chevrolet Spark. The Spark, which was designed and engineered in Korea, has sold one million units since its debut in 2010, with 250,000 of those sales coming from Korea.
Some of Korea’s top stars could also be found modeling some of the top cars at the SMS. Cha Seung-won (차승원), star of the reality program “Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village” (삼시세끼-어촌편) brought his trademark mustache to the Maserati booth to help model the company’s Alfieri concept car. Making its Korean premiere at this year’s SMS, the Alfieri, named after one of the company’s founders, won “concept of the year 2014” at the Geneva Motor Show.
THE STAR(S) OF THE SHOW
With some 370 vehicles on display from over 30 global auto brands, this year’s Seoul Motor Show is the biggest ever. Picking just one “best of show” from among so many offerings would be like picking your favorite Big Bang song, there are just too many to choose from—but one thing is clear; so-called “eco-friendly cars” were the darlings of the show. With a few notable exceptions, nearly every manufacturer had their eco-friendly cars front and center, and among these, the EOLAB concept from Renault-Samsung stood out for its ground-breaking style, innovation, and eco-credentials. Having made its world debut in 2014 at the Paris Motor Show, the EOLAB’s appearance at the 2015 Seoul Motor Show marked the first time the car was on display in Asia. Made from state-of-the-art high-strength steel and special magnesium panels developed in conjunction with Korean steel giant POSCO, Renault-Samsung Motors claims that the EOLAB can travel 100 kilometers on just one liter of gasoline (approx. 235 mpg). To help the car achieve this high level of fuel efficiency, computers onboard the EOLAB automatically lower the front and rear of the car at speeds over 70 kilometers per hour to reduce wind resistance. In addition, special wings in the rear bumper extend to help lower drag at high speed.
On the other end of the spectrum, another stand out from the 2015 Seoul Motor Show is Volkswagen’s Design Vision GTI concept car. With over 500 horsepower and a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour (nearly 190 miles per hour), VW’s ultimate Golf won’t win any environmental awards from Green Peace. But with looks that good, will any really care? Before the start of the SMS, Volkswagen covered its range-toping Golf in black satin, something that many manufacturers do; but what VW did different was to keep the car’s headlights on and, in doing so, added to both the mystique and the menacing nature of the car.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Past editions of the Seoul Motor Show have drawn over one million visitors during their runs and this year’s show looks to continue that trend. In short, expect crowds. Doors open at 10:30 am on weekdays and 10:00 am on weekends, so get there early to get the jump on the crowds. And if you’re looking for a bit of an escape during your visit, be sure to check out the “Automotive Industry History Zone,” where you can see some of Korea’s cars from the past, including one whose name sounds a bit like the Korean word for the number 18 and/or a Korean curse word.