South Korea's government forecasts the country having more than 200,000 electric and hydrogen vehicles on its roads by the end of this year amid increased public incentives.
A projected 94,430 electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen cars will be added in 2020, equivalent to 84pc of the 113,000 added over 2012-19, according to the country's environment ministry. This year's additions are expected to include 65,000 regular EVs, 11,000 two-wheeled EVs, 7,500 electric delivery trucks and 650 electric buses.
Seoul has budgeted 1.1 trillion won ($946.5mn) for EV and hydrogen subsidies and charging infrastructure this year, including purchase incentives for 65,000 regular EVs, up from 42,000 in 2019. It aims to boost sales of electric and hydrogen vehicles to 33pc of all cars sold in the country by 2030, up from about 2.6pc last year.
South Korea is also increasing exports of EVs. Domestic auto producers Hyundai and Kia exported 63,414 EVs in 2019, up by 128pc from a year earlier.
The transition to EVs boosts demand for cobalt, lithium and other materials used to make batteries, with South Korea having several ventures under way to recycle used battery packs.
The latest is a plan by GS Engineering and Construction to build a W100bn battery recycling plant in the subsidised industrial district of Pohang. The plant, which is scheduled to open in 2022, will have capacity to process 1,000 used EV batteries each year, extracting cobalt, manganese, nickel and other metals that will be sold to battery producers and other manufacturers. GS said it will be able to extract 4,500 t/yr of valuable metals when the factory opens, and additional investments could push capacity to 10,000 t/yr.
By Tony Cox