SEOUL: Hyundai, the Korean automaker, is launching its first electric car just as the government is stepping up its efforts to promote electric vehicles, with expanded infrastructure and a range of incentives for consumers.
The latest initiative will see charging fees for electric cars halved later this year, while state subsidies will offer buyers an additional financial enticement to move away from existing petrol models.
Hyundai's new Ioniq electric vehicle, for example, is priced at W40-45m but that falls to W20-25m under the subsidies available for green cars.
At the same time, Yonhap reported, the government is helping battery companies to establish a nationwide network of car charging stations, with prices slashed from W120,000 to W60,000 ($53) for a rapid charge that takes around half an hour, while a normal four-hour charge will drop from W19,000 to W9,500.
Automakers such as Hyundai are also looking to introduce mobile recharging stations.
The government program forms part of a wider plan aimed at the creation of an eco-friendly energy sector and the development of new products to drive future growth.
"We will speed up the implementation of the program to foster the electric car sector as our key export item by 2020," stated Woo Tae-hee, vice Trade Minister.
Neighbouring China is also actively developing its electric vehicles market, with sales more than doubling in the year to June (+126.6%).
And Samsung Electronics, another Korean company, is reported to be poised to make a significant investment in China's BYD, the world's largest electric car manufacturer, a move that would install it as a key supplier in the electric-vehicle subsystem.
China's shift towards electric vehicles is in part a response to the pollution levels in its cities and there are calls for India to follow the same path; the government already offers support for green auto technology, under its FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India) initiative.
The decision this week of India's National Green Tribunal that all diesel vehicles in Delhi older than ten years should be de-registered with immediate effect may give a further boost to the electric car industry.
Data sourced from Yonhap, Chosun Ilbo, South China Morning Post, Economic Times, Financial Express; additional content by Warc staff