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A Wave of Change in the Car Market: Electric Vehicles

In the second half of this year, President Moon Jae-in announced a plan to invest 20 trillion won in electric vehicles (EV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) over the next five years. This is to make Korea the most competitive country in the field of future cars. EVs use electricity for driving, and it is not only Korea that has already started to invest aggressively in EV fields but also America, Europe, and Japan. In particular, Tesla which succeeded in the mass production of EVs, ranked No.1 out of the global automobile companies with a market capitalization of 464.34 billion dollars in September 2020. As EVs get thrown further into the spotlight, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) decided to look at the developments of EVs, the advantages and disadvantages, and their future prospects.

Eco-friendly Car, Electric Vehicles

The Concept and History of Electric Vehicles

An Electric Vehicle (EV) is an eco-friendly car that only uses electricity for driving, and it makes an electric motor spin using electric energy stored in its own battery. The internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), still the most commonly used these days, operates through an engine using hot air produced by burning fossil fuels for moving the pistons; therefore, the ICEV emits exhaust gas. In contrast, the EV redeems the problem of the ICEV and operates with electricity, which fits the future goal of sustainable development. For these reasons, many countries are developing EVs and making policies for them.

The First Electric Vehicle Invented in 1834 (pinterest.com)

The crude oil electric wagon, known to be the first EV, was invented in 1834, and after that, a French scientist made an EV using an electric battery for the first time in 1859. From this moment, electric batteries were developed more, so EVs have continually improved. The advent of the battery was very important in the history of EVs, but it as not a success as the battery was disposable. Since then, the development of EVs stopped for a while because the Ford Model T dominated the market by mass-production through the conveyor system. EVs began to make a mark from the 1990s till now when the environmental problem of ICEV got serious. Then, many automobile companies like Tesla and Nissan started to develop EVs in earnest from 2005.

The Spotlight on Electric Vehicles

The EV has a long history of development, but the attention and full-out improvement of EVs are recent issues, compared to the ICEV. The EV however, has shown similar performance figures to the ICEV in less than 10 years while the ICEV has been developed constantly throughout the past 100 years. Recently, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, declared that Tesla will lower the price of EVs in three years by halving the price of electric batteries. Tesla accomplished the popularization of EVs by releasing the Tesla Model 3 in 2018 and now keeps trying to catch up with the price of ICEVs. Also, Hyundai Motor Company plans to release an EV series starting from the Ioniq 5, in 2021. The Ioniq 5 can be charged up to 80% within 20 minutes and is designed to drive more than 450km on a single charge. Plus, there is a change regarding the development of batteries: new batteries are being developed to replace existing batteries, which have a danger of exploding. The solid-state battery is drawing attention among the new batteries, because there is less danger of explosions and they are smaller and lighter than current ones. In Korea, Samsung Electronics is planning on commercializing this battery by 2027.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Vehicles


01 Cost-effective Maintenance

The EV does not need complex mechanisms like an internal combustion engine, or a transmission. Unlike EVs, ICEVs usually need frequent management because they have many complex mechanisms your that can cause a car to breakdown. Compared to this, an EV has a simple structure and rarely causes friction, so little expense or car maintenance is required. Also, the charge expense of EVs is less than half of ICEVs. For example, an ICEV commonly costs 200,000 won to fill up with gas for a month, but EVs only cost 50,000 won per month.

(Left) The Chassis of an Electric Vehicle, BMW iX3 (megaev.com)(Right) The Chassis of a Conventional Vehicle, NF Sonata (blog.daum.net)

02 Free Form Design

As EVs do not have a formalized engine, currently released EVs usually have a simple inner structure, so a much freer and creative design is possible. Also, they have a larger inner space than ICEVs because fewer parts are required. There are two kinds of external appearances for EVs, and one is the shape of a mountain, in order to minimize air resistance. For instance, General Motors produced EV1, which was the world’s first mass-produced EV, in 1996 with that shape. This design, however, is not used in recent vehicles because of problems like parking. The other kind of design is to apply a separation point to EVs, and it makes the back of the cars angulated. The separation point helps to cut out the swirling phenomenon, which occurs when cars move forward and air resistance occurs.

(Left) EV1 (avtovizije.com)(Right) An Angled Part of an Electric Vehicle (1000hwi.tistory.com)

03 Necessary for the Development of Self-driving

The EV is required for the future of self-driving for its advantages like easy control and fitness for self-charging. Electric motors are more manageable than engines, which enables EVs to start and stop without time delay. Also, when wireless self-charging becomes possible, EVs can be charged in the nearby parking lots of apartments instead of gas stations, which are more accessible and economical. For these reasons, many car companies mainly develop self-driving electric cars although they can also produce self-driving vehicles with engines.


01 High Prices of Batteries

The government supports a subsidy when people buy EVs, but its price is still higher than ICEVs because batteries account for 30~40% of an EVs’ prime cost. The batteries in EVs now cost approximately 20 million won, which reaches on a par with an ordinary car’s price. The development of EV batteries costs a lot because the EV demands are low, and the batteries can not be used for other things. Though the price is getting lower through steady advancement, the pace is slow compared to the goal, which is to popularize EVs within 15 years.

02 Uncomfortable Charge

Many people are interested in EVs, but they have so far hesitated to buy them. The biggest reasons are a lack of charging stations and the time it takes to charge. EV charging stations are insufficient compared to the demand, so the drivers would feel pressure to consider the route including charging stations when they drive long distances. Also, the charging time is much longer than with ICEVs. As for EVs released so far, the time for a slow charge at 220v until 80% takes about five to six hours, and for a fast charge using a supercharger takes one to two hours.

Can Electric Vehicles Replace Conventional Vehicles?

Prospect of Popularizing Electric Vehicles

EV Trend Korea 2021 Poster (evtrendkorea.co.kr)

The prospect of EVs is very bright. Several European countries, as well as the American state of California have already planned to popularize EVs and FCEVs instead of ICEVs over the next 30 years. Also, the Korean government suggested specific alternatives to fix the problems of EVs like charging through Strategies to Spread Future Cars and Preoccupy the Market. As this presentation shows, many countries are trying to invest in EVs and cover the flaws. According to statistics from the Ministry of Land in the first half of this year, registered EVs in the first half of 2020 recorded 111,307 and the number increased to 53% higher compared to last year. Also, a survey conducted by EV Trend Korea this August demonstrates that 64% of participants answered that they want to buy an EV within three years. As the government announced a solution to the problems of batteries and charging, the EV market will rapidly grow considering the demand.

Suggestions for the Future of Electric Vehicles

01 Education of Etiquettes and Nurture of Specialists

Recently, the demand and attention of EVs are growing, but lots of people do not know the etiquettes about EVs. For example, there is a law where if cars other than EVs are parked in an EV charging space, they get imposed with a 100,000 won fine. Also, some EV drivers occupy the charging space even though the charge is already done. Therefore, the laws regarding EV etiquettes need to be applied to a driver’s license test where people are informed. Plus, as EVs develop rapidly, the demand for EVs servicing and specialists has increased. The supply of specialists, however, is still insufficient. Thus, the government should support college majors related to future eco-friendly cars more or encourage education for EV specialists.

02 Driving Incentives for Drivers

When people buy an EV, they can take tax benefits and subsidies, but more strong driving incentives are required to make more people buy EVs. The present government gives 13 to 18 million won as a subsidy, and consumers can buy an EV for 30 million won, which initially would have cost approximately 50 million won. The motivation for purchase, however, is still lacking for consumers compared to ICEVs. Thus, driving incentives for EVs can be a solution to urge motivation of purchase. Driving incentives, such as using the bus-only lane, 70% reduction of toll fees, and parking fees should be continuously guaranteed.

As shown in the stock prices of Tesla and the projects for future cars focused on EVs, the development of EVs will keep going. As EVs have improved, laws about EVs and lots of solutions have come up. Following these trends, considering buying an EV instead of ICEVs is not that far into the future. With all of their environmental and economical benefits, perhaps it’s worth considering an EV for Kingo’s first car?

서혜준  sdw11882@naver.com

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