South Korea will invest 2.6 trillion won (US$2.34 billion) by 2022 to develop hydrogen-fuel cars and related infrastructure, boosting sales of the eco-friendly vehicles, the industry ministry said recently.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it aims to supply about 16,000 hydrogen vehicles and 310 charging stations nationwide by 2022 to tackle air pollution problems and promote next-generation cars. Local car makers have released a series of fuel cell lineups in recent years, but demand remains feeble in the domestic market due in large part to a lack of charging stations.
"South Korea has big potential to get ahead in the eco-friendly vehicle market, but there was a lack of an encompassing policy for the hydrogen vehicles and a nationwide charging infrastructure," Minister Paik Un-gyu said in a meeting with representatives from local automakers and related organisations.
"The government will provide full support for hydrogen vehicle makers by establishing an industry ecosystem covering hydrogen vehicles, charging stations and fuel." To facilitate research and development efforts, the ministry, local automakers and state-run utilities companies have agreed to establish a special purpose company by November to help overcome business hurdles for the emerging vehicle market.
Under the agreement, leading automaker Hyundai Motor Co., the state-run Korea Gas Corporation and other companies will work together to install hydrogen fueling stations in major cities and on highways. The state-run Korea Express Corporation and Hyundai Motor will work together to install eight hydrogen charging stations on highways with heavy traffic and 10 more in Seoul and other major cities.
The ministry said it will revise regulations for a stable supply of hydrogen fuel and establish a distribution center by next year, paving the way for the mass commercialization of the eco-friendly vehicles. It costs about 3 billion won to build a fuel charging station and 200 million won per year to run it, according to the ministry. The global production of hydrogen-fueled vehicles is expected to reach 50,000 in 2018, 260,000 in 2022 and 2.2 million in 2030, according to market researcher IHS Markit.