Updated February. 12, 2014 06:13
The Seoul City government is working to introduce the electric taxi in Seoul in a bid to reduce harmful ultrafine dust, 34 percent of which is emitted from automobiles.
A high-ranking official of the city government said Tuesday that the city plans to select a contractor for electric vehicles through an open bid in March or April and start a validation process. During the test period, about 10 electric vehicles as well as LPG hybrid vehicles will be dispatched for efficiency comparison. Feedbacks from the taxi industry and passenger as well as economic feasibility will also be analyzed to expand the business within this year. In the meantime, the infrastructure necessary for electric vehicles such as high-speed battery charging stations will be expanded.
Electric vehicles available in the domestic market this year are five, namely the Kia Soul EV and Ray EV, the Renault Samsung SM3 ZE, the Chevrolet Spark of GM Korea and the BMW i3. Given that taxi needs to be spacious for passengers, SM3 ZE and Soul EV are considered strong candidates for the bid.
This electric taxi project by the Seoul city government has been resumed in two years. In July 2011, the city announced the Electric Vehicle Master Plan, saying it would increase the number of electric vehicles to 30,000, including 1,000 electric taxies, by 2014. However, the project was put on hold in 2012 since some civic groups opposed the idea citing that electricity made by burning fossil fuels could cause environmental pollution.
The environmental benefits of electric vehicles have started to draw attention thanks to the significant improvement in both marketability and efficiency of electric vehicles as well as the expansion of power generation through new renewable energy sources. Against this backdrop, electric taxi has reemerged as a solution for ultrafine dust. In Jeju and Daejeon, pilot projects have already been in progress since last year. Countries such as the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands are actively running electric taxies, while London plans to issue new taxi licenses only for electric vehicles from 2018.
The capital city will announce in the first half of this year the 2030 Smart and Green Transportation Master Plan for Seoul, a comprehensive long-term plan to reduce air pollution caused by transportation and increase the penetration of environmentally-friendly vehicles. Seoul is considering the introduction of low-carbon vehicle cooperation charge system, which is to subsidize or charge car buyers depending on CO2 emissions. In addition, Seoul will use various incentives, such as providing subsidies for residents who buy an electric vehicle.