Electric car and vehicle development in Korea

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Found a few articles on the development of electric vehicles here in Korea, and it's good to see that Korean car makers aren't just sticking with gasoline while the rest of the world passes them by. I have three examples here, and there are certainly many more.

The first is on Kia's Morning (the Picanto in other countries) The Morning is a gasoline-powered car but they are now working on an electric version, and this article from 20 April is on a test drive of this all-electric car. It looks like this:

The company that actually did this is called Leo Motors, and they took a 1000cc Kia Morning van and turned it into an electric car for this test drive. They have a press release here in English on the test drive, and the package that can be purchased to turn a regular car into an electric one - it costs $20,000. They took out the engine and replaced it with a 75 kg and 60kW motor and controller box. Maximum torque was 26.0 kg.m. Instead of a lithium-ion battery it used a more effective li-polymer 240 kg, 30 kW battery.

Charging: uses a regular (in Korea) 200V plug to charge, and it can be recharged in only ten minutes if you're using an industrial-use charger. A single charge costs 3000 won (about $2.50), and one charge gives the vehicle a range of up to 200 km. Top speed for this test was 110 kph, but Leo Motors claims that it can achieve a speed of 180 kph.

There are some more specs, but that should be sufficient. The interesting part about this article is that it keeps on comparing the car to Mitsubishi's i MiEV and how much better this one is. A little competition between nations never hurt anyone when what they're competing over is technology for electric vehicles.

The next piece of news is from yesterday, and can be seen here. Korea has a fairly large city called Ulsan located in the southeast, right next to Korea's second-largest city, Busan. A member from the Ulsan police department here is shown trying out CT&T's E-Zone, an electric car that isn't as attractive as many others like Norway's Think. Although the black model you can see in this picture here looks nicer than the others they have on their site IMO.

This car has a maximum speed of only 60 kph, and can go up to 100 km on a single charge. This company seems to be a bit more interested in the golf cart market than the average vehicle owner.

Finally, this isn't extremely recent news but still not very well-known: Domino's in Korea began using electric scooters to deliver pizzas for the first time last year (pizza in Korea is never delivered by car). The scooters are 50cc, and recharge using a normal outlet. This is especially good news for those of us that live here because scooters use the sidewalk just as much as they use the road, and sometimes a scooter will go by extra close and you'll have to hold your breath as it goes by and fouls up the air that you had been enjoying breathing until then. This article says they bought twenty of them to test out. Given the low cost of using electric vehicles vs. gas (and the time saved in not having to stop to fill them up) I can only assume that they eventually intend to replace the whole fleet.

You can see another picture of the electric scooters here.


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