South Korea Wants More Electric-Car Charging Stations


DC fast charging 2015 Kia Soul EV

DC fast charging 2015 Kia Soul EV

South Korea electric-car sales have been helped significantly by government subsidies both national and local, but there's still much room for improvement.

That's because despite these subsidies, just 850 plug-in cars were sold in South Korea in 2014, leaving the country with around 1,800 on its roads at the end of the year.

The country is hoping to speed up this slow progress by shifting focus to charging infrastructure, in the hope that more stations will attract more buyers.

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South Korea plans to invest heavily in charging infrastructure and related technologies, as detailed in a recent Navigant Research blog post.

While many electric-car drivers in the U.S. rely on home charging, that isn't an option for most South Koreans, who tend to live in multi-unit dwellings.

The government of the capital city of Seoul hopes to address that problem by building 100,000 new charging sites within its jurisdiction.

2015 Kia Soul EV enters production

2015 Kia Soul EV enters production

That's a massive leap from Navigant's estimate of 100 public stations operating in Seoul as of the end of 2014.

However, these sites will reportedly consist only of electrical outlets, where portable charging equipment can be plugged in.

The charging units will be supplied by Korean company Powercube, which is expected to sell them for under $1,000 each.

ALSO SEE: Electric-Car Sales Surge In South Korea, Supported By Subsidies (Apr 2014)

They will be equipped with RFID tags that will allow Powercube to track customers' electricity use, and bill them remotely.

The tag also transmits the time of a given charging session, indicating that users may be offered different rates for off-peak charging.

Charging at 3.3 kilowatts per hour, these units likely won't be as quick as a dedicated 240-volt Level 2 charging station, but they will be cheaper and easier to install.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid

Private interests are also looking to expand South Korea's charging infrastructure.

POSCO ICT recently unveiled a plan to install its charging stations at hotels around the country, while KT Corporation has started a pilot program to convert unused telephone boxes into charging stations.

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Perhaps these initiatives will combine with existing incentives to create a more favorable environment for electric cars.

The national government already offers up to 15 million won ($13,900) for the purchase of a new battery-electric car, and certain regions offer incentives of their own.

Seoul, for example, offers residents up to 20 million won ($18,245) for the purchase of an electric car from one of four carmakers: BMW, General Motors, Kia, and Renault-Samsung.

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