BUSINESS

Experts call for practical solutions to expand eco-friendly cars

By Julie Kim Jackson
  • Published : Mar 5, 2017 - 16:51
  • Updated : Mar 5, 2017 - 16:51
South Korea’s government is spurring investments to foster eco-friendly cars, with its latest plan announced last week to build 200 more charging stations for green cars on expressways nationwide until 2025.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport shared plans to construct charging stations for hydrogen-powered cars, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Eco-friendly cars will also receive a 50 percent reduction on highway tolls until theys become common here.

A detailed business plan will be put together in the first half of this year, and construction is expected to begin next year, the ministry said.

The government will also invest 210 billion won in the second half of this year to install high-speed chargers on expressways. 

(123rf)

The government’s move is in line with its vow to decrease pollution by making the country’s roads’ more eco-friendly, including boosting the number of EVs to 250,000 units and EV charging infrastructure to 3,000 stations by 2020.

Experts, however, pointed to difficulties with payments and a lack of options for charging at home.

There are over 200 charging stations on Jeju Island, but to use the service without constraint, drivers need to use cards issued by six different brands.

High-speed chargers installed by the Ministry of Environment only accept Shinhan, BC and KB Kookmin cards that can also be used as payment transportation cards.

To use chargers run by the Korea Electric Vehicle Charging Service, drivers must receive a flat rate card after joining the company’s website.

“We need to figure out how to charge all these electric cars that the government is pushing for,” said

Kim Pil-soo, a professor of automotive engineering professor at Daelim University.

“Also, as apartments make up about 70 percent of houses in the city, a lack of parking space has long been an issue here.”

Kim added that those on lower incomes, most of whom live in homes without designated parking, face a greater challenge in charging at home.

Charging EVs in the US and Japan is not as troublesome.

Most people in the US live in detached houses or town houses that come with a private garage. In Japan, drivers have had to register a parking spot with the government in order to purchase a vehicle since 1962.

Meanwhile, experts, including Kim, highlighted the need to support other alternative charging methods for better convenience, such as mobile chargers.

There are currently local entrepreneurs that develop mobile chargers such as Korea’s mobile charging service provider Power Cube.

Drivers can charge EVs by plugging to a parking lot electrical outlet with a radio-frequency identification installed. The RFID automatically identifies the vehicle and keeps track of the amount of electricity charged to the driver.

According to Power Cube, it had installed 23,911 RFIDs 974 apartment complexes nationwide as of Feb. 1.

Kim said the government should further implement efficient measures that address practicality. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)