Eco-friendly low-speed electric vehicles, which emit no carbon dioxide, will go into service in Seoul from April 14.
Low-speed electric vehicles, which can run up to 60 kilometers per hour, have been touted as environmentally-friendly vehicles both at home and overseas, including the United States and Europe. Such vehicles, however, have not been allowed to run on conventional motorways due to safety issues and have been used as golf carts or as a means of transportation in public parks. In light of this, the central government revised a law that allows low-speed electric vehicles, with a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour, to run on roads in December last year. On March 30 this year, the revised law came into effect. Seoul City plans to allow low-speed electric vehicles to run on the roads of the city from April 14 following consultations with its 25 local districts, which have the authority to designate the types of vehicle allowed to run on their roads.
Only about 3.2 percent of the roads in Seoul ban low-speed electric vehicles from running on them. And, it would not be difficult for low-speed electric vehicles to run on most of the routes in Seoul. Should the road an electric car is on intersect with one that has a speed limit above 60 kilometers per hour then it is allowed to cross the higher speed limit road in order to continue on its journey. However, a driver of a low-speed electric vehicle must check his or her route in advance to ensure their destination is not located on a road that bans electric vehicles.
The distribution of electric vehicles is still at its early stage, and there are no tax breaks or subsidies to promote buying those vehicles. Seoul City plans to make electric vehicles exempt from the tolls imposed by the Ministry of Environment and registered by the city during highly-trafficked hours. Also, electric vehicles would significantly save fuel costs, even compared with mini cars. In addition, insurance firms will soon begin selling auto insurance products for electric cars. By the end of 2010, Seoul City plans to build more than 100 recharging stations in public buildings and parking lots to allow electric vehicle owners to drive their vehicles without inconvenience.
In a bid to support the policy of ‘eco-friendly, green growth,’ improve the quality of air by reducing energy consumption and actively cope with climate change, Seoul City plans to replace its official vehicles for short-distance purposes with eco-friendly electric vehicles. The replacement is expected to further improve the air quality in Seoul as low-speed electric vehicles emit no greenhouse gases. A study showed that more than 3,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases will be eliminated each year if 1,000 low-speed electric vehicles replace conventional vehicles.