Ultra-compact to become official

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Ultra-compact to become official

Vehicles smaller than compact cars will get a new category designated by the government. Drivers of such vehicles, likely called “ultra-compact cars,” will be eligible for various benefits and the auto industry hopes to benefit too.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Sunday it will propose a revision to the Automobile Management Act by May 15 so that ultra-compact vehicles will become a new sub-category of the compact vehicle designation.

“The new classification of vehicles could be implemented as early as the first half,” said a ministry official. “We will come up with entirely new vehicle classification policies by changing impractical parts of the existing ones by the end of this year.”

Currently, there are four car classifications: compact, small, medium and large, depending on engine displacements and size. By usage, cars are divided into private, commercial, freight and special-purpose vehicles.

Compact cars have engine displacements smaller than 1,000 cubic centimeters (cc) and are a maximum of 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) long, 1.6 meters wide and 2 meters high.

Under the proposed revision, ultra-compact vehicles will have engine displacements of 250 cc or smaller (and a maximum of 15 kilowatts for electric vehicles). Length and height limits will be the same as for compact cars but the width will be limited to 1.5 meters. The cars are supposed to weigh 600 kilograms (1,322 pounds) or less and maximum speed should be 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) per hour, which means drivers can’t drive on highways.

Drivers of ultra-compact vehicles will be eligible for parking spaces devoted to that car segment and benefits on taxes, insurance policies and parking fees.

As demand for so-called “micro mobility vehicles” rises, especially among single-person households, local carmakers are expected to get a boost.

Currently, only a couple of models will be subject to the new classification: Twizy, a two-seat electric vehicle imported and retailed by Renault Samsung, and Danigo, a four-wheel drive electric car from Daechang Motors, a local carmaker.

The former went on sale in Korea in 2016 and the latter, coming in two types - a one seater and a two-seater - was released last September by the maker of the signature four-wheel motorized yogurt-delivery carts for Korea Yakult.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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