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By James Lim
July 8 — South Korea will push to make electric car batteries run longer, build a network of charging stations and make e-car purchases and ownership more affordable, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.
The plan includes development—beginning this year—of an e-car battery with energy density high enough to more than double the travel distance on a charge to 400 kilometers (248.5 miles).
By 2020, high-speed charging stations will become available at an average of one within a two-kilometer radius in the capital city of Seoul, with a population of 10 million, the ministry said July 7.
In addition, 30,000 slow charging stations will be strategically located at about 4,000 apartment complexes nationwide by 2020.
Starting this year, the tax surcharges paid at the time of purchasing an e-car will be reduced, and e-car drivers will see cuts in insurance premiums, expressway tolls and parking fees, the ministry said.
And the standard one-time government subsidy available to e-car buyers was increased to 14 million won ($12,100) from 12 million won ($10,400), effective July 8.
“The lack of domestic e-car infrastructure has been an impediment to e-car development and production in South Korea, but that will change from now,” Lee Won-joo, director of the Automobile Aerospace Division, told Bloomberg BNA.
According to the ministry's data, South Korea is the world's fifth biggest car manufacturing country with 1.8 million vehicles produced in the first five months of 2016 and 1.1 million, or 61 percent, of them sold overseas.
But South Korea lags behind many nations in the domestic popularity of electric cars.
According to Global EV Outlook 2016 released by the International Energy Agency, e-car country market share was 0.2 percent for South Korea in 2015, among the lowest in comparison with 15 other members of the Electric Vehicles Initiative international governmental forum.
The ministry estimates that the current and future policy programs will help increase the e-car market share in South Korea to 0.5 percent in 2017 and 5.3 percent in 2020.
The global market share of South Korean e-cars also will be boosted to match that of South Korean gasoline and diesel cars, which reached 8.5 percent based on sales by South Korea's two main car exporters, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., the government said.
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