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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 7)

All News 07:22 October 07, 2021

Lack of EV chargers
Time to spend more on charging infrastructure

Nearly 200,000 battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) are in use here, but the charging infrastructure for them is quite insufficient, raising fears that the rapid sales of these eco-friendly cars might hit a snag. According to data released by Rep. Park Sang-hyuk of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, Monday, 191,065 battery-powered EVs were in use as of August this year. The number of chargers came to 91,927 ― 13,731 rapid chargers and 78,196 slow chargers.

Korea appears to be ahead when it comes to the country's charging infrastructure, as there is one charger for every two EVs, compared with 10 in Britain, 11 in France and 16.5 in Japan. In terms of rapid chargers, however, Korea is not doing so well, as there is only one for every 14 EVs. Also, there are big regional discrepancies in their distribution. In big cities where EVs are relatively abundant, one rapid charger covers 26.2 cars in Busan and 22.2 in Seoul. By contrast, one rapid charger covers 10.6 cars in Ulsan.

These chargers can charge and "empty" EV up to 80 percent of capacity in 30 minutes, compared to four to five hours using slow chargers. So it's critical to establish more rapid chargers to accelerate the supply of EVs. The government plans to install 30,000 new chargers this year, but 60,000 more will be necessary to keep the number of EVs per unit at the current level of two. The filling station infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) is also in a woeful state. More than 16,000 FCEVs were in use here as of August, but there were only 117 hydrogen filling stations.

Nearly 3.8 trillion won ($3.2 billion) in taxpayer money has been spent on subsidizing the sales EVs over the last decade, but the expansion of chargers has been neglected. Given the possibility that cheap EVs might flood the domestic market in the years to come, the government should budget more for an appropriate charging infrastructure before some serious bottlenecks occur.

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