Field report from the Seoul Climate Change Expo, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The expo is being held right now over three days - yesterday, today (the 19th), and tomorrow. Since it's close to where I live I stopped by today. The conference was organized with a number of cities in the front section detailing the solutions they are undertaking to reduce emissions (that was the less flashy part), and in the back was where companies from all over the world showed off their environmentally-friendly products, which ranged from biogas to waste disposal to lighting to transport and others. I was naturally most interested in the electric cars, but some of the other companies were really interesting too. First I'll explain through the few pictures I took.

First we have a company that I wrote a bit about here, called CT&T, and they make electric vehicles that are not quite the kind I would buy myself (design is a bit boxy and top speed and range are a bit low at 60 kph and 100 km), but they don't seem to be after the average vehicle driver so much as niche markets like golf carts and delivery vehicles.

Here's something called the E-zone Golf:

The inside of their cars all look like this.

This is a car now being used by the police in the city of Ulsan for parking enforcement, because you don't really need a totally souped-up car to do that.
And the inside.
This is a nice one - it's a post office truck.

This one seems to be some sort of tiny delivery truck.

Then a regular car.
And the inside.
The other electric automobile maker was something called "Green Car, Clean City" and I liked the design and specs of this car much better. At the same time the people there were pretty quiet and I had to ask quite a few questions just to get some basic information. Maybe that's a quiet confidence, or maybe they were bored because it was 30 minutes from 5 p.m. when the day's events were to end. The car they had there looks like this:

Those numbers there are the top speed and range, so it can go up to 130 kph and has a range of 160 km, which is just right. Apparently the body model is from another company (I think) but the frame they use is a type of aluminum that they make in order to reduce weight, and then there's the electric motor on top of that. Specs for this car:

Battery size: 20kwh
Battery weight: 180kg, 84 litres
Curb weight: within 1000 kg
Torque: max 180 Nm
Motor max output: 50 kw
Projected recharging time: 7 hours normal, 30 minutes with quick recharger

They say this will be on sale at the end of the year, for somewhere around $20,000.

They also have some scooters too.

That 20 means the maximum slope, so it can go up a slope of 20 degrees. Max speed is 80 kph, and the 250 is the amount of money (in won) to recharge it, so about $0.20 for a recharge. I think the range was about 50 km but I can't remember. The price for this might be about $2000 to $3000 or so.

Now for some other companies.

Here's a company called Kolon Water (yes, that's their real name). I took the picture because they even had Estonian in the languages on the left. Vesi means water, and that's actually the first Estonian word I ever used on the ferry over from Helsinki to Tallinn when I was asked what I wanted to drink.

Inside Hyundai was also showing off two hybrids of theirs. One was this hybrid that uses electricity and gas at the same time, which they said is coming out in July. The other one was just a frame and it's more of a Chevrolet Volt-type car, where it first runs on a battery for about 50 km and then switches to gas, so the idea is that you only need to use electricity when simply commuting near home but can still use it for a road trip, and that second one will come out in 2011 I think. No word on the price for the cars.

After that was a company called EB Wide, which makes card payment systems for public transport. I was drawn to their display when I noticed a bit about Almaty, Kazakhstan. This is one of the cities where their system is used, and the card swipe system there looks like this:
That's Russian. I also got a real transportation card used in Almaty so I can use it if I go there, and on the card I see there is Kazakh as well as Russian. Another country they are in is Ecuador, and that looks like this:
They are most interested in providing these services to countries that are somewhat but not too developed, because really developed countries already have these systems in place but those around the mid range may not be using these systems yet but now have the money to invest in them.

The last company I didn't take a picture of but I didn't need to as their promotional material both online and off is excellent. It's called Vectus, and it's actually the exact same as an idea I've often had so I was pleasantly surprised to see that there's a company actually doing this. I've often wondered why subways and monorails and all the rest aren't ever built on a much smaller scale than they are now, and that seems to be the idea behind this company too. They've come up with a design for a tiny train-like thing that seats up to four people (although their site says six is doable too), and it looks like this:

Here's how the system works: there's a single one-way track that these little pods run along, and the stations are a little ways off the track. When you get in at the station and select the destination the pod leaves and then enters the main track, where it continues to go without stopping anywhere else until it reaches the destination, whereupon it switches to that track, slows down and arrives. The top speed is only around 55 kph or so but without stopping at any other stations along the way it's actually faster; it's basically like going that speed on a road without a single car or traffic light to slow you down. They've made a few videos promoting it and one can be seen here:

At the moment they have a testing area in Sweden and are apparently one step away from being certified, after which they should be able to start selling this to cities that want it. With the tiny track I assume construction costs would be minimal compared to a regular subway. It would also be good for use in an airport, as the trains inside really large airports take far too long to arrive and leave, and it's no fun having to wait along with everybody else with your luggage for yet another something to ride on even after you've spent a few hours on a plane.

There's one more day left if you want to go, so if you're in the area definitely check it out. It's at COEX and goes from 10 to 5, and admission is free.


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