The Korea Herald


Clean-energy cars on the rise in Korea


Published : Aug. 21, 2011 - 19:03

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Nearly 50,000 clean-energy vehicles have been sold in South Korea as local automakers have broadened their lineups of eco-friendly cars in line with the government’s “green growth” policy, the Environment Ministry said.

The aggregate number of eco-friendly cars sold in South Korea until last year stood at 48,561, the ministry said. The cars are powered by alternative energy sources like natural gas and electricity.

The tally showed a sharp growth of such clean-energy cars compared with past years and the uptrend is expected to gather further ground down the road, the ministry said last week.

Natural gas-powered vehicles were the most popular kind with a total of 26,894 sold. Hybrid cars that employ electric motors in addition to a gasoline or diesel engine came second with 16,885 units followed by 4,872 units of diesel cars with fewer emissions.

The country’s total vehicle registrations reached 17.94 million units as of end-2010.

The popularity of natural gas-powered vehicles came as the government stepped up spending to introduce these cars in recent years as part of emission reduction efforts.

The government spent about 380.9 billion won ($355 million) during 2000-2010 to replace up to 4,000 gasoline-powered city buses and garbage trucks with natural gas vehicles every year during the period, the ministry said. A total of 3,275 natural gas buses and trucks were adopted last year alone, it added.

Hybrid cars showed steeper growth among others amid automakers’ widening efforts for sales, it noted.

The number of hybrid vehicles on the road reached only 50 in 2004 but sharply surged in recent years. A total of 656 units of hybrid cars were sold in 2007 and the annual sales figure soared to 8,115 units last year, the ministry said.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors’ ongoing efforts to diversify their lineups of hybrid models, combined with the government’s policy aid to buoy their sales, will further increase the local market for hybrid cars, it projected.

The ministry will push to help boost the distribution of hybrid and electric cars, it said, adding the recent increase of lower-pollution vehicles was the reason behind the improved air condition in the capital region. 

(Yonhap News)