South Korea yesterday unveiled an ambitious plan to dramatically increase the production of environmentally friendly cars by 2020 as part of global efforts to cut carbon emissions and curb climate change.
Under the policy goals released by the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the annual output of “green cars” like hybrid and electric-powered vehicles would increase sharply from 80,000 this year to 920,000 over the next five years.
Seoul eventually hopes such vehicles would account for 20 percent of all cars sold in the domestic market, compared with the current share of just 2 percent.
The issue of vehicle emissions has taken on a higher public profile recently in South Korea as a result of the scandal involving the Volkswagen Group and faked emissions standards.
Last month, the South Korean Ministry of Environment ordered the German automaker to recall 125,500 diesel vehicles sold in the nation and fined the company more than US$12 million.
The energy ministry said the new green car policy would help Seoul cut carbon emissions by 3.8 million tonnes over the next five years.
It vowed to invest 150 billion won (US$127.5 million) to help local carmakers like Hyundai Group improve the range of battery-powered cars and eventually drive down prices. Hundreds of new electric charging stations are to be built across the nation — with a target of 1,400 by 2020, compared with the current 400.
“Environmentally friendly cars ... will account for 50 percent of the global auto market by 2030,” the ministry said.
South Korea has been slow to adopt green car technology, with consumers turned off by high prices and a lack of charging stations. However, Hyundai —South Korea’s largest automaker — has been seeking to expand its presence in the global green car market that is currently dominated by Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp.
Hyundai, which forms the world’s fifth-largest carmaking group along with its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp, plans to triple its number of fuel-efficient car models to 22 over the next five years.
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