Moon Touts Hydrogen Cars in Visit to Ulsan

  • By Jeong Woo-sang, Jeon Soo-yong

    January 18, 2019 13:51

    President Moon Jae-in on Thursday threw the government's support behind hydrogen cars as the future of eco vehicles. Speaking at an event in the southern industrial port of Ulsan, Moon said his government is determined to support "the hydrogen economy" rooted in clean-energy cars.

    The same day, the government announced plans to develop hydrogen and fuel-cell cars, which is what the "hydrogen economy" is shorthand for. The government spent the past three months huddled with experts in hydrogen and fuel-cell cars to come up with the plans.

    Last year, the Moon administration named artificial intelligence, big data and hydrogen cars as its three main areas of strategic investments.

    Moon visited a booth showcasing Hyundai's hydrogen-powered Nexo and joked, "I am practically a product-endorsement model for Hyundai's fuel-cell cars these days." During a visit to France last October, Moon rode a Nexo and tried out a recharging station.

    President Moon Jae-in (center) and Hyundai vice chairman Chung Eui-sun (at his left), look at fuel-cell displays in Ulsan on Thursday. /Newsis

    The government plans to boost the number of hydrogen cars manufactured here from the current 1,800 to more than 6.2 million by 2040 -- 2.9 million for the domestic market and 3.3 million for export -- while increasing recharging stations from 14 to 1,200. The target is to sell some 4,000 hydrogen vehicles this year, while manufacturing capacity is supposed to reach 100,000 cars a year by 2025.

    An official at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said, "The current high W60-70 million price tag for hydrogen cars will drop to around W30 million, which is about the price of gasoline and diesel cars, within six years once mass-production facilities are completed (US$1=W1,124)."

    At present, there are two hydrogen buses in trial service, and that will rise to 35 in seven cities this year. By 2040, the government envisions up to 40,000 hydrogen-fueled buses operating in the country, or 85 percent of all buses.

    Seoul also has 10 hydrogen taxis in trial service, and the service will expand to all major cities by 2021 and across the country by 2023 to rival the 80,000 regular cabs running in Seoul now.

    The government also plans to boost power-generation by fuel cells to 15 GW by 2040, which would be equivalent to the power generated by 15 nuclear reactors.

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