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Jeju seeks to become zero car emission island by 2030

2014/03/17 14:12

SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) -- Jeju Island, equipped with some of the most comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure in South Korea, has set its sights on becoming a zero car emissions zone by 2030.

The province, a popular tourist destination for both South Koreans and foreigners, said it is aiming for all vehicles on the island to be electric by the target year.

"Jeju already provides the most support in the world for those wanting to buy electric cars, and this stance, along with concerted efforts to develop the recharging infrastructure, will allow the ambitious goal to be met," Kang Dong-woo, section chief at provincial administration's smart grid office, said.

He said the province is pushing to increase the number of electric vehicles (EV) by more than 500 in 2014, with the number of slow and fast-charging vehicles to be increased by 500 and 21, respectively.

The official pointed out that a person living on Jeju, located off South Korea's southwestern coast, can receive 23 million won (US$21,500) from the central and regional governments if he or she buys an EV, easing the burden of purchasing a zero emission vehicle.

Kang said that while a detailed study on how the island will expand its recharging infrastructure will be carried out within the year, the goal is to get regular gas stations to provide electric fast-charging services down the line.

"Up until 2017, the public sector will probably lead moves to expand the EV infrastructure, but this will change with the private side taking the lead from 2017 onwards when there is expected to be some 29,000 EVs on the island," the official said.

Jeju currently has some 360 EVs and 497 recharging locations, with 48 being high voltage, fast-charging stations. This translates into one charging station for every 3.72 square kilometers.

Seoul has more registered EVs overall, but in terms of EV density compared to total number of cars in operation, Jeju has a five-fold advantage over the capital city.

Visitors check EV at the first International Electric Vehicle Expo on Jeju Island. (Yonhap file photo)

Visitors check EV at the first International Electric Vehicle Expo on Jeju Island. (Yonhap file photo)

Others at the provincial office supporting the first International Electric Vehicle Expo (IEVE), which began Saturday and runs through Friday, said Jeju is ideal for EVs because a full trip around the island requires a car to travel only 180 kilometers.

This means that most EVs on the market will only need one fast recharge during the day to make the full trip.

Kia Motors Corp.'s brand new Soul EV has been determined by the South Korean government to be able to travel 148 kilometers on a full charge. The carmaker claims the car can travel a maximum of 235 kilometers.

Others such as the 2014 Nissan Leaf, the world's best-selling EV, can travel 135 kilometers according to fuel efficiency data provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The 2014 Chevrolet Spark, 2014 Ford Focus Electric and 2013 Mitsubishi i-MiEV have been determined to have a range of 131.9 kilometers, 122.3 kilometers and 99.7 kilometers, respectively, while BMW's i3 urban electric car, with range extender option that uses a small internal combustion engine to generate power, can travel up to 300 kilometers.

Jeju said its other advantage over other areas is that it is in the process of building an island-wide smart grid that makes more effective use of clean renewable energy to generate electricity.

"We expect a sharp rise in EV rent-a-car that will provide a novel experience at affordable running costs," one expo official said. Some rent-a-car companies already offer Kia Ray EVs to customers.

Reflecting Jeju's ambitions, IEVE organizers said the event has attracted six EV manufacturers and 40 other companies in related fields. The event has attracted some 2,000 industry experts.

Nissan said it will start selling its Leaf EV on the island, while Kia handed over its very first Soul EV model to a Jeju customer to mark the start of the expo.

yonngong@yna.co.kr

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