Cars of the future are here

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Cars of the future are here

Electric vehicles, which are being heralded as the next generation of eco-friendly cars, will be commercialized from 2011.

According to a plan announced Wednesday by the Knowledge Ministry the government will advance the year for starting mass production of those vehicles by two years to help give a boost to the industry.

If the renewed plan proceeds as scheduled, Korea will account for 10 percent of the world’s electric vehicle market by 2015, and those cars will make up 10 percent of all smaller vehicles in Korea by 2020. With such achievements, Korea aims to become one of the top four electric car powerhouses in the world.

Korea’s electric vehicle industry is deemed to have a huge potential to become a next-generation growth engine for the national economy, and the government’s strategy sure seems timely.

Amid growing attention to environmentally friendly vehicles, there is a high chance that the market will expand rapidly. From a technological point of view, Korea is already equipped with a leading ability to develop and produce electric vehicles.

The global auto market is moving rapidly in the direction of green vehicles, including hybrid and electric, as it distances itself from cars and trucks that run on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Given that countries around the world are promoting green growth and rapidly strengthening environment-related regulations, the demand for electric cars will continue to rise - perhaps by leaps and bounds.

Following Mitsubishi of Japan, which was the first company to commercialize a vehicle that runs purely on electricity, GM of the United States and BYD of China are planning to mass produce these types of cars. Given that a worldwide race has begun to commercialize electric vehicles, it is natural for Korea to advance the year it launches its own version.

Korea holds an edge in the competition in that it has leading technologies in battery and information technology - two keys for developing electric vehicles. Local manufacturers are already supplying batteries to GM and BMW, a good sign for the future. Korea is also an IT leader, which should bode well as demand for high-tech electric car parts and technology rises.

But there is more to do. The government should forge partnerships with private enterprises to produce cheaper and more efficient electric vehicles.

To accomplish this, the government should come up with some financial support for technological development.

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