Accelerate the EV transformation
I received an email from a reader upon reading my article about the unpleasant experience of attempting to drive from Seoul to Daejeon in an all-electric Chevrolet Bolt on April 11. The reader, who has been driving a gas-fueled car for 15 years, said he had changed his mind about buying an electric car upon reading the article. The exasperation of trying to recharge the vehicle throughout the trip reminded him of the similar annoyance for drivers of LPG vehicles due to the lack of fuel stations in the early stages.
The trouble with an electric vehicle (EV) stems entirely from a lack of infrastructure. The government said it is trying its best to beef up charging infrastructure. It vows to increase 1,139 charging units to 3,000 by 2020.
The first hybrid car Hyundai FGV-1 was developed in 1995. It has been eight years since the car became available. The car can run on both gasoline and electricity. It was a transition vehicle before the roads become all-electric.
The EV campaign was planned a decade ago, but the government moves as the mission has suddenly landed on it.
While Korea has been taking its time, China is way ahead in EV proliferation. EV sales as of last year reached 802,100 units, compared to 12,000 in Korea.
EVs are common in Norway and the Netherlands. Manufacturers have also made fast headway in clean-fuel vehicle technology. Except for a relatively slow response to sudden stops, the Bolt is highly recommended. It has the strength to bolt uphill and steers smoothly around the corners. The interior is spacey because a small motor replaces the usual bulky engine. It emits zero carbon and does little harm to the environment.
The EV system and operational flaws also need improvement. Most of the charging stations are unattended, gathering rust and spider webs. There were no benefits for public parking or traffic or toll fees for EVs as promised.
The apps for charging also need fixing. The government provides information and maps on charging stations on its website. But the webpage lacking GPS guidance is little help when trying to locate a charging station while driving. In order not to stay behind, Korea must accelerate its steps for the transformation. The government must do its role so that I can confidently tell readers to buy an EV.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 13, Page 33
*The author is an industry reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.