However, as the discount rate of electric vehicle charging electricity charges rose in July this year, consumers and private businesses are pointing out that the increase goes against the policy of supplying eco-friendly cars.
The Ministry of Environment, which oversees the supply of eco-friendly cars, said on the 14th, “We recognize that the increase in charging fees will burden operators and reduce the attractiveness of electric vehicles to consumers. We are considering improving the basic rate system or temporarily supporting the basic rate as a power industry base fund.”
◇ Even after the end of the charge discount, it’s more competitive than the internal combustion engine.
The fee for using fast chargers for electric vehicles operated by the Ministry of Environment was set at 313.1 won per 1kWh in 2016, but special discounts were implemented in line with the government’s policy to supply eco-friendly cars.
The special discount, which was scheduled to be applied only until last year, will be phased out to ease the burden on consumers and the impact the electric vehicle market may receive.
Since July, the discount has already been reduced to 50% of the basic fare and 30% of the electricity bill, which will be maintained until June next year.
From July next year to June 2022, it will be reduced to a 25% discount on basic rates and 10% discount on electricity bills, and from July 2022, the discount will be completely eliminated.
KEPCO expects that “even if the fare discount is terminated, it will be cheaper than general electricity bills and much cheaper than gasoline cars in terms of fuel costs.”
In fact, the Ministry of Environment and KEPCO, which operate about 90% of the nation’s public rapid chargers, raised their charging rates by 47% from 173.8 won per 1 kWh to 255.7 won.
Fast chargers operated by most private operators set the charging fee per 1kWh at around 200 won, depending on the operator, and some increased two to three times.
Korea Electric Power Corp. explains that the charging fee of electric vehicles (public rapid chargers) is 37% of the fuel cost of gasoline vehicles based on Kona. It’s cheaper compared to slow charging.
According to the Ministry of Environment’s 2016 explanation, if the discount completely disappears in 2022 and the usage fee returns to 313.1 won, the rapid charger usage fee will rise to 44% compared to gasoline cars and 62% compared to diesel cars.
When using a slow charger (70%) and a fast charger (30%) together, it is 33% of gasoline cars and 47% of diesel cars.
However, there are voices of concern in Korea’s largest electric vehicle Internet community, saying, “The cost of fast charging of electric vehicles at the time of special sunset is close to hybrid oil costs, so it may not be a benefit considering the actual purchase price.”
The charging station, which the government announced will supply 45,000 cumulative chargers by 2025, is a public charging station that anyone can use, and so far, 23,000 are installed in rapid and slow terms.
In addition, most of the charging stations installed in companies or apartment complexes that can only be used by specific targets are private-run slow charging stations, with about 34,000 fast and fast combined.
The reason why the price of slow charging has risen more sharply than fast charging during this increase is that private companies have passed most of the increase to charging fees to meet their business feasibility.
Previously, the basic fee was exempted and charging fees were determined based only on the usage fee, but now, apart from the usage, a basic fee of about 65,000 won for a fast charger (50kW) and about 16,000 won for a slow charger (7kW) will be charged based on the number of chargers.
As a charging service provider, even unused chargers will have to pay fixed charges, so they have no choice but to increase their charging rates accordingly.
If the demand for use decreases or the risk of business increases due to the increase in charging fees, operators will have fewer factors to maintain or expand their electric vehicle business.
In line with this, four oil refineries – SK Energy, GS Caltex, S-Oil, and Hyundai Oilbank – are focusing on specifying their hydrogen charging business.
The hydrogen charging station currently in operation is the “Fusion Complex Energy Station” in Gangdong-gu, Seoul, which was completed in May in collaboration with GS Caltex and Hyundai Motor, with an average of 50 hydrogen cars (as of August).
An official from GS Caltex said, “We will actively consider expanding hydrogen charging facilities in line with the government’s policy to revitalize the hydrogen economy.”
SK Energy is also building a hydrogen charging station in Pyeongtaek City with the aim of operating it in November this year, and in July, it officially announced its participation in the “Hydrogen Logistics Alliance.”
Through the Hydrogen Logistics Alliance, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport plans to set up hydrogen truck charging stations at logistics hubs such as Gunpo Logistics Complex and come up with measures to support fuel subsidies.
In the case of S-Oil, it is “actively preparing to create a hydrogen economy ecosystem” by considering establishing a hydrogen charging station on the site of Magok Research Institute in consultation with the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
Hyundai Oilbank said in a recent conference call that it plans to expand the number of hydrogen charging stations to about 80 by 2025 by utilizing the existing gas station infrastructure.
An official from Hyundai Oilbank said, “We have set a goal under the assumption that the government’s plan to install a hydrogen charging station will become a reality,” adding, “Nothing has been specified yet.”
The Ministry of Environment is considering ways to improve the basic charge system or temporarily support the basic charge as a power industry-based fund, judging that the increase in charging rates could reduce the attractiveness of electric vehicles to consumers and increase the burden on operators.
An official from the Ministry of Environment said, “We continue to demand the measures from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and KEPCO, and there is still a consensus to come up with alternatives, but we will come up with a detailed plan on how to implement the Green New Deal by next month.”
“At the moment, we plan to return to 313.1 won without rate adjustment,” an official from the Ministry of Environment said. “This price is only reflected in government-run rapid chargers, but I understand that this price affects when calculating the price of slow chargers.”
“Now, the price competitiveness of electric vehicle maintenance costs is not high due to low oil prices due to the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19),” he said. “However, even at the current oil price level, it is more competitive than internal combustion engine cars, and even if it reaches 313.1 won, it will still be 60-70%.”