South Korea wants to promote electric vehicles to its urban-centric population, but the country faces a number of roadblocks, including a limited number of dedicated charging stations. The country’s capital, Seoul, is rolling out an ambitious plan that will turn regular outlets into Level 2 Chargers, while keeping track of who is using the power, and where.
At the core of the plan is the EV-Line charger, which can plug into any of Korea’s standard outlets, which typically operate at 220-volts (compared to 120 in the U.S.). EV-Line and the Seoul government are working with private companies to open up outlets in parking garages and apartment buildings that would allow EV owners to plug an EV-Line into these outlets.
Fitted with a RFID tag attached to the EV owner, the info is sent back to a company called Power Cube, which can determine how much power is being used and where, thus paying South Korea’s main utility for the power. Customers, in turn, pay Power Cube based on their usage. No mo jostling over limited charging stations; now every outlet can be a car charger, which is great for Seoul’s mostly apartment-dwelling population.
There are less than a 1,000 dedicated Level 2 charging stations in Seoul right now, and even fewer EVs, but the ambitious plan calls for 100,000 outlets open to this special EV-Line plug by 2018. That would give EV drivers many more options when it comes to plugging in, with typical charging times taking between six and eight hours for a car like the Kia Soul EV (which I’m still test driving).
If the government is really serious about getting electric cars on its roads though, they’ll need to add in some other incentives, like access to bus lanes and tax rebates. But turning any plug into an EV charger could make owning an electric car a lot easier in Best Korea.