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Seoul pushes electric-car batteries

Sept 22,2016
The government and private sector said it will invest 43 billion won ($38.4 million) by 2020 to develop high-performance rechargeable batteries for automobiles.

The rechargeable battery, which the developers plan to launch by 2020, will allow an electric vehicle to travel from Seoul to Busan, or some 400 kilometers (248 miles), without having to recharge, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.

“Major countries around the world are focusing on building up their competitiveness through developing electric vehicles and rechargeable batteries and the market size of batteries for electric vehicles is expected to rise by 30 percent a year on average until 2020,” Chung Man-Ki, vice minister of the Trade Ministry, said at a meeting with Korea’s business leaders, including representatives from LG Chem and Hyundai Motor on Wednesday.

“The battery project will allow Korea to maintain an advantageous position in the global market and the government will continue to give support to the electric vehicle and battery industries so that they can enter foreign markets as well. Rechargeable batteries are closely related to electric vehicles and the government hopes that cooperation between the manufacturers of the two products to create a great synergy effect in the future.”

The market size of lithium ion batteries is expected to rise 34.9 percent from $7.38 billion this year to $19.7 billion in 2020, according to Korea Energy Industry Association.

The government will provide 27 billion won and the public sector will invest another 16 billion won for the project. Its goal is to develop batteries with an energy density of 300 watt-hour per kilogram (Wh/kg). The government plans to spend 4 billion won this year alone and another 5.6 billion won next year.

Currently, Korea has the technology to make a battery with density of 150 Wh/kg. The government’s goal is to exceed the density of 250 Wh/kg set by neighboring Japan and China, the Trade Ministry said.

“We will be able to enjoy driving electric cars for 400 kilometers without having to worry about recharging by 2020 and the government expects our exports of rechargeable batteries will grow from $500 million to $3.7 billion once the project is done,” said an official at the Trade Ministry.

Hyundai Motor’s Ioniq Electric reportedly is capable of traveling up to 191 kilometers on a single charge, currently the best performance among Korean vehicles.

A total of 27 public and private institutions and businesses, including LG Chem and Hyundai Motor, and 230 researchers will be involved in the project, the Trade Ministry said.

The government also said that it will continue its projects on electric vehicles, including goals to improve general performance.

Government officials are also running a pilot program with Hyundai Motor that will operate fuel-cell electric vehicle cabs in the southern port city of Ulsan in November. The Trade Ministry said it plans to expand the number of such vehicles operating in Korea and will have them available through car-sharing businesses.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]


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