SEOUL, August 10, 2011 (AFP) â€“ South Korea will produce mid-size electric cars from 2014 â€“ three years earlier than its original schedule â€“ in a state-funded project led by Hyundai Motor, officials said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said it has selected a consortium led by Hyundai to develop a car that can travel more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) on a single charge.
The consortium will receive about 70 billion won ($64.6 million) in state money, it said.
The project will help South Korea become one of the worldâ€™s top three makers in the increasingly competitive electric auto market, the ministry said in a statement.
South Korea earlier sought to complete development of mid-size electric vehicles in 2017 but competition prompted it to revise its schedule.
Hyundai in September unveiled South Koreaâ€™s first full-speed electric car, the BlueOn, which can travel 140 kilometers on a single charge. It plans to produce 2,500 BlueOns by the end of next year.
Hyundaiâ€™s affiliate Kia Motors also plans to introduce a compact electric vehicle this year.
Japanese rivals such as Nissan, Honda and Toyota have already rolled out new electric models. Nissan has predicted that by 2020, electric cars will account for 10 percent of the global auto market.
The Hyundai consortium is also in charge of developing new batteries which will help cut the price of electric vehicles and improve their performance. â–