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  • Solving the Urban Air Pollution Problem with Eco-friendly Vehicles

  • Environment SMG 4386

    [The story of eco-friendly vehicle distribution in Seoul]

    • The automobile, the main culprit in rising energy consumption and air pollution
    • Seoul Metropolitan Government’s eco-friendly transportation policy for the distribution of electric vehicles

      * Increasing the proportion of eco-friendly vehicles on the road

      * Replacing all official government vehicles with eco-friendly ones (by 2018)

      * KRW 16.5 million subsidy for electric cars to be increased to KRW 18.5 million

    • Seoul, a leading city in smart, eco-friendly transportation

    Pointed to as one of the main culprits in terms of energy waste and air pollution, automobiles are becoming a growing part of a global problem. Seoul’s total energy consumption in 2011 was 16,958 TOE, of which 30.8 percent, or 5,228 TOE, was consumed in the transportation sector. The majority of that share, or 55.7 percent, was consumed by automobiles, which were also found to be the largest source of air pollution in Seoul. In 2010, automobiles discharged 57.5 percent of the entire volume of air pollutants emitted into the air of Seoul.

    Eliminating the main culprit of energy waste and air pollution

    As mentioned above, it has already been proven that automobiles are one of the largest energy consumers and air polluters. This led Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) to the realization that solving the automobile problem will be a key element in the implementation of its eco-friendly transportation policy, and it has been making a great deal of effort to do so ever since.

    It started with the expansion of Seoul’s urban rapid transit system, which is the most widely used mass transportation system in the city. The city government expanded and reorganized the rapid transit network to ensure easy access throughout Seoul, even extending it into the neighboring areas of Gyeonggi Province so as to enhance the convenience of the public transportation system. This effort was intended to encourage citizens and tourists to use mass transit rather than individual vehicles.

    Furthermore, Seoul has implemented an effective measure for the distribution of eco-friendly vehicles, such as electric vehicles (EV), and is currently carrying out various initiatives, such as those to decrease traffic volume by 30 percent, provide 12,000 EVs, and install 200 rapid EV charging stations in the city by 2018. Through these initiatives, the city government aims at making Seoul a “city of fresh air and green transportation” by 2030.

    Electric scooters provided to district offices Distribution of rapid EV charging stations in Seoul
    Micro-mobility EV Distribution of rapid EV charging stations in Seoul

    Seoul’s eco-friendly transportation policy kick-starts EV use.

    TIn particular, the distribution of EVs is an indispensable part of Seoul’s eco-friendly transportation policy. An EV consumes only 10 percent of the energy used by an internal combustion engine vehicle and emits only 24 percent of the greenhouse gas emitted by a gasoline-powered vehicle of the same class. Therefore, the distribution of EVs is essential in the city’s pursuit of an eco-friendly policy.

    SMG is actively promoting its EV distribution program by putting up posters at major public facilities, such as public offices and subway stations, and handing out leaflets; it is also encouraging apartment building managers and resident representatives to install EV charging stations on the premises of the their buildings. In addition, upon the replacement of official city government vehicles since 2017, only EVs will be used. For types of cars for which there are no EV alternatives, the city will replace them with other environment-friendly vehicles, such as hybrid, LPG, and CNG vehicles.

    Electric scooters provided to district offices A electric bus being charged
    Electric scooters provided to district offices A electric bus being charged

    The city government also provides subsidies for citizens who are using eco-friendly vehicles. Most notably, it grants citizens a subsidy of KRW 18.5 million upon the purchase of an EV. This subsidy is provided for vehicles purchased for either personal or business use, such as car rental or leasing businesses. Currently, rental cars are more commonly used than personal cars, so rental EVs have the potential to make a greater contribution to improving air quality and allowing more citizens to experience EVs. In addition, from October 2016, the city government will designate certain parking spaces for EVs in city-run parking lots, provide one-hour parking fee waivers for EVs parked to recharge, and expand the rapid EV charging infrastructure.

    Seoul, a leading city in smart, eco-friendly transportation

    SMG has been integrating eco-friendly vehicles into its mass transit system, which is the most widely used means of transportation among citizens. Some public buses and taxis on the roads of Seoul have already been replaced with environment-friendly vehicles, including the small number of CNG hybrid buses and electric taxis that are operating in Seoul. The city government has been gradually pushing forward its plan to replace all buses and taxis with green vehicles, under which it will operate electric buses on 266 bus routes and replace all taxis by 2030.

    In order to achieve the wide distribution of eco-friendly cars, ensuring the convenience of users is the top priority. For instance, a lack of charging stations will make eco-friendly transportation efforts useless and hamper the growth of EV use. Therefore, expanding the availability of EV charging stations is an essential element of the city government’s eco-friendly transportation policy. In order to resolve this issue, the city will amend the Ordinance for Promoting the Development and Distribution of Eco-friendly Automobiles in Seoul to lay a foundation for the mandatory installation of EV chargers at all new apartment buildings.

    Hydrogen fuel cell charger in World Cup Park A citizen charging her EV
    Hydrogen fuel cell charger in World Cup Park A citizen charging her EV

    Let’s help protect our planet by driving eco-friendly EVs.

    As a part of its environment protection policy, the city government is carrying out various citizen engagement programs to raise public awareness of EVs among the citizens of Seoul. As the city’s plan to install EV charging stations in the parking lots of apartment buildings has not been making much progress, due to the space requirements and necessity of securing the consent of resident representatives, mobile chargers could be a good alternative, as they require only electric outlets, eliminating the need for designated parking spaces or the installation of stationary charging stations. Furthermore, the government plans to expand the rapid EV charging infrastructure by the end of 2016 to provide EV users with access to rapid charging stations every four kilometers.

    Korean class field trip

    Product features

    The city government also hosted the “2016 Seoul E.V. Eco-Rally,” where EVs competed to prove their battery performance. Only EV users were allowed to participate in the rally, which had them drive a total of 60 kilometers and then had their EV’s battery consumption compared with those of other EVs in the same category. The route of the rally took drivers from Gasan G-Valley Rodeo Street to Gimpo Airport, Yeouido, Seoul City Hall, the main gate of Seoul National University, and back to G-Valley. Through events such as this, the city plans to raise public awareness of EVs and promote eco-friendly driving culture, alongside its efforts to improve the air quality of Seoul through the aggressive distribution of EVs.