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The EVs Strike Korea
Written by Matthew Choi | Published. 2016.09.16 19:22 | Count : 1009

          As of now, Tesla is one of the most successful car companies in the world. The car company Tesla has been rising exponentially after its success in production of EVs, Electric Vehicles. It has initiated its plan to make its sub branch in Korea this winter. However, I still had a pondering thought; “Why are there a lot of people in Korea who are interested in EVs even if there are a few places with EV chargers and their low competitive price versus that of gasoline cars?”

(The Tesla Studio in Hanam)

          To look for answers I visited the Hanam Tesla studio along with the Hyundai IONIQ studio there, and questioned two professors in the University of Seoul, Professor Taehyoun Kim of System Software and Professor Soo-il Lee of Mechanical Engineering.  

Q1: Does Tesla have competitive advantage in terms of technological power than its competitors (primarily Hyundai IONIQ)?
Tesla has a comparative advantage when it comes to technology itself. These conditions are made because Tesla is taking a very different angle compared to other car companies. According to Professor Kim, Tesla does not perceive their cars as machines but rather, “computers,” elaborating the point Tesla is taking a next level approach in producing cars. Also, he mentioned Hyundai is focused more on creating hydrogen vehicles rather than EVs. According to Professor Lee, Tesla is not a company that just sells EVs but it is beginning the revolution of “Mobility,” due to how it innovated the EVs. Tesla was like how Apple was creating products of new paradigm standing at the forefront of technological development. In comparison to Tesla, Hyundai IONIQ is a hybrid version using the Avante frame. “The Hybrid has an advanced engine enabling the car to travel 22.4 km per liter,” according to the Hanam Hyundai Motor Studio manager, indicating Hyundai is more focused on innovating hybrid automobiles than EVs.  

(The Hyundai IONIQ studio in Hanam)

Q2: Some people say Tesla cars are too expensive. What's your opinion on that?
Many people have complaints that Tesla cars were too expensive, selling at approximately 90,000 dollars. However, Professor Lee replied by saying, “The cars manufactured by Tesla have to be expensive due to the highly proficient battery and leading technology taken advantage of.” Professor Kim similarly remarked, “Maintenance cost of EVs is actually lower than other types of cars. That provides a clear advantage of driving an EV, even though price of the car is a bit expensive.” 

Q3: 'Korean government's scheme to promote EVs, mainly its plan to supplement charging infrastructure, is it practically viable? 
The plans for the Korean government to build more EV charging stations is necessary for Tesla’s campaign in Korea, but sponsors from the government have their own limits. Professor Lee quoted that, “If Tesla promotes cars as much as they did in the US, the number of people using EVs would increase in Korea. There is a possibility that the government would impose extra tax on utilizing EV chargers, which will hinder the expansion of EVs in Korea.” Professor Kim quoted that, “As of now there are more people who are demanding EV chargers in supermarkets, highways and even in their homes.”

           Overall, EVs will have a big impact in Korea due to how innovative they are, and how EVs are being promoted throughout the world. As of now, the future of EVs in Korea looks promising, albeit there are a few obstacles. I presume the number of EVs in this country will increase within the next ten to twenty years. 

Matthew Choi
Grade 9
Asia Pacific International School

Matthew Choi  student_reporter@dherald.com

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