Eco-friendly cars are key to resolving the fine dust problemIt’s been over a month since the government held a ministerial meeting and announced a special plan against fine dust, but the controversy is still ongoing. We need to stop blaming and seek clues for solution together.
According to the current Korean laws, cars powered by electricity, solar energy, hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas are considered environmentally friendly. There are no natural gas and solar-powered models that can be used for passenger vehicles in Korea yet. In Europe, not only electric, hydrogen and natural gas-fueled vehicles but also LPG and bioenergy-powered cars have been classified as alternate fuel vehicle, and various assistant measures for development and distribution are in place. In the United States, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong, LPG is imposed a lower tax rate than other fuels to allow citizens to use it more economically. It is quite different from how Korean government only considered increasing tax on diesel in response to the fine dust associated with diesel-fueled vehicles.
Currently, electric, hydrogen-fueled and LPG vehicles are mentioned as the most likely alternatives to diesel cars. However, there are many obstacles for their distribution and wider usage. First, we need to establish charging infrastructure for electric and hydrogen vehicles. There are only 333 electric car charging stations and 10 hydrogen car charging stations in Korea. Car prices are not so affordable yet. Even the price of the more affordable Tesla model is not very competitive.
The government should come up with more realistic solutions to resolve the fine dust problem. In addition to establishing electric car charging infrastructure, the authorities need to consider stronger measures to encourage people to drive environmentally friendly cars. When LPG cars are encouraged worldwide, Korea should reconsider unnecessary regulations. LPG cars can be a realistic alternative. Korea already has world-class LPG automobile technology. Expanding domestic demand will also help Korea’s competition in the growing global LPG vehicle market.
Similarly, investment in wider distribution of electric and hydrogen-fueled cars would be a foundation for Korea’s entry into the global environmentally friendly vehicles market.
Most importantly, all these measures need to be promoted and implemented quickly and effectively. The government has been busy inarticulately defending itself from public outrage. Hopefully, the government would act more swiftly and smartly.
*Professor of automotive engineering at Daelim University College