The Korean government’s policy for electric vehicle (EV) promotion is regressing due to a lack of budget.
The Ministry of Environment, which is in charge of creating EV charging infrastructure, is mulling over halving the number of rapid charging stations to be built this year from its previous plan. “Instead, we will check the current status of charging equipment installation in places with less access, such as motorway service stations and the underground parking lots of ward offices, with local governments, and then carry out position readjustment,” it said, adding, “This is in view of public access to Evs, with the supply of the vehicles increasingly led by the private sector since last year.”
Still, the budget for the purpose including EV purchase subsidies is slightly over 40 billion won (US$39.5 million). “We are currently asking the Ministry of Strategy & Finance and the National Assembly Budget Office for help to build EV infrastructure as planned due to budgetary deficit,” it explained.
The industry is quite passive as well, although it is trying to supply slower chargers these days. This is because power transactions are possible only by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), and KEPCO itself is in no position to move in with no legal ground present regarding EV charging infrastructure construction. Industry participants, in the meantime, are claiming that more assistance policies be in place since EV batteries, which are charged mainly at night, can be utilized as energy storage systems and in the Micro Grid Project for the fostering of new and renewable energy and stable power supply.
Meanwhile, non-Korean governments and carmakers are moving faster to take the initiative in the global EV market. Nissan, BMW and Tesla are discussing how to cooperate for the sharing of EV charging networks, and the Society of Automotive Engineers of the United States and European automakers are trying to adopt the combo type as the single standard. The Chinese government is planning to supply five million EVs by 2020.
“The government is mentioning the immaturity of the EV market and the absence of international standards, but we will find ourselves lagging more and more behind if letting advanced countries lead the market,” said an industry source, continuing, “What we need is a consistent policy direction with global automakers regarding Korea as the optimal place for their EV business for the narrow territory, dense population, and advanced IT infrastructure.”