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July 17, 2024

North Korea claims its own EV brand with improbable 720km range

PUBLISHED : June 17, 2024 - 17:41

UPDATED : June 17, 2024 - 17:41

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North Korea's "Madusan" electric vehicle. (YouTube channel "Paektu TV From Paektu to Halla")

North Korea is making bold claims about importing and selling its own brand of electric vehicles with an improbable maximum range of 720 kilometers, drawing skepticism and curiosity from South Korean and international observers alike.

Last Friday, a video titled "Madusan Economic Federation" was posted on the YouTube channel "Paektu TV From Paektu to Halla," which shares content purportedly from North Korean media. Paektu Mountain, also known as Baekdu Mountain, is an active stratovolcano on the Chinese-North Korean border.

The video, approximately eight minutes long, highlights ongoing projects by the Madusan Economic Federation, a North Korean foreign trade organization established in 2018. The federation is described as engaging in diverse trade activities, including international economic zone development, energy and resource management, and even producing Madusan-branded smartphones, all under funding from Madusan Bank.

The video says that an entity called the Madusan Electric Vehicle Technology Exchange imports and sells electric vehicles, with a maximum range of 720 kilometers, in collaboration with leading overseas electric vehicle manufacturers and service companies. (YouTube channel "Paektu TV From Paektu to Halla")

Notably, a segment of the organization, the Madusan Electric Vehicle Technology Exchange, is allegedly “importing and selling electric vehicles in collaboration with leading overseas electric vehicle manufacturers and service companies.”

The video showcases a North Korean, Madusan-branded electric car model driving in the rain, claiming a maximum range of 720 kilometers per charge. For comparison, by Korean certification standards, the Tesla Model X has a range between 439 to 478 kilometers, the Hyundai Ioniq 6 ranges from 367 to 524 kilometers, and the Kia EV6 has a range of 461 to 494 kilometers per charge.

These claims have been met with skepticism due to the disparity between the reported range of the Madusan EV and that of established global EV manufacturers like Tesla and Hyundai. Additionally, the design of the Madusan EV, featuring elements like a front grille typically unnecessary for electric vehicles, further casts doubt on its authenticity and performance.

Even if North Korea is simply importing and rebranding Chinese electric vehicles, there is currently no known Chinese EV in the market with an official range exceeding 700 kilometers.

The name Madusan does not correspond to any known location in the Korean peninsula or individual and appears to function as a brand name representing various entities related to North Korea's economic and industrial activities. The video seems intended to position Madusan Economic Federation as a significant player in North Korea's drive towards technological and economic advancement, despite the lack of independent verification of their claims.

By Moon Joon-hyun (mjh@heraldcorp.com)

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