South Korea Invests in Futuristic Vehicles

Plans call for fully autonomous autos by 2027.

October 17, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea—South Korea plans to speed up the adoption of electric cars, self-driving vehicles and even flying automobiles to help revive a sagging economy, Bloomberg reports. The government hopes the investments will create jobs and stimulate an economy that’s been hard hit by global trade tensions.

In a speech this week, President Moon Jae-in said that Korean companies will invest $50 billion over the next decade in the future of transportation. The government will help underwrite related technology and build the infrastructure needed. Commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles will occur by 2027, or three years earlier than planned. Moon also predicted that electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles will account for 33% of automobiles sold in 2030, compared to an estimated 2.6% in 2019.

To promote vehicle sales, the government will consider extending subsidies to buyers and slashing current hydrogen prices in half by 2030. It will encourage operators of buses and trucks to switch to electric and hydrogen vehicles as well. Additional plans call for the government to increase the number of EV charging stations from the current 5,427 to 15,000 locations by 2030 and boost hydrogen refueling spots from 31 to 660.

In preparation for autonomous driving, the government will establish regulations by 2024 so robocars can operate on local roads, but with varying degrees of driver supervision. Plans also call for creating a route system and safety rules by 2023 and to start services of personal air vehicles from 2025.

In keeping with the government’s plan, Hyundai Motor Group expects to roll out some autonomous vehicles by 2021, along with a line of 23 EVs by 2025. Last month, Hyundai agreed on an autonomous-driving joint venture with Aptiv PLC to develop robotaxis by 2022. It also set up a new urban air mobility division to come up with smart products within the aviation industry.