South Korea needs to focus more on the development of autonomous driving and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing rather than the commercialization of hydrogen vehicles, researchers at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET) assert.
Senior researcher Lee Hang-ku and researcher Yoon Ja-young noted in a report released on Feb. 7 that South Korea’s automobile production fell to 4.03 million units in 2018 and is estimated to fall below 4 million units this year. “Still, South Korean automakers are failing to respond to the ongoing paradigm shift in the industry,” they said.
They also pointed out South Korean automakers need to accelerate their investment in EVs in that South Korean EV battery manufacturers are currently leading the global EV battery market. “Although local EV battery suppliers are the world’s most competitive players and local carmakers are diversifying their EV models, South Korea still has a far way to go when it comes to charging stations and network management,” they warned, continuing, “foreign automakers are planning to release more than 100 EV models until 2022 and the global hydrogen EV demand is estimated to account for less than 2 percent of the global new car sales in 2030, which implies more attention should be paid to self-driving cars, plug-in hybrid cars and battery-based EVs.”
The researchers mentioned that global cumulative sales of hydrogen EVs stood at 10,000 units until the end of 2018 whereas sales of battery-based EVs, commercialized 10 years ago, are estimated to exceed the hybrid car sales this year.
They pointed out that South Korea is lagging behind in the self-driving race, too. “Competition in the self-driving car market is likely to intensify this year as GM, Uber and Waymo launch self-driving taxi services,” they said, adding, “South Korean automakers are still dependent on imported components whereas their foreign counterparts already finished developing Level 4 autonomous driving technology.”