KEPCO develops battery chargers for electric vehicles

The Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) revealed two chargers, an express-mode and a standard-mode, that take 20 minutes and 5 hours respectively to recharge electric vehicles to at least 80 percent.

The express-mode is projected to be used at charging stations in the future, in a similar fashion to how gas stations operate currently, and the standard-mode is designed for home-use.

KEPCO said, due to the absence of any fully-built electric vehicles in the South Korean auto-industry, they worked in cooperation with Hyundai and Kia motors, who recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the power company and are in the process of developing electric vehicles.

Last year, the utility firm signed a deal with Hyundai Motor Group to jointly develop electric vehicles and battery chargers by 2010.

The two models have functions to read drivers’ information through radio-frequency identification technology cards.

"We plan to offer real-time information on automated battery chargers around the country," an official said. "The company will also develop a payment system that includes both electricity used at home and battery chargers (around the country)."

The government has already announced plans to inject about 400 billion won by 2014 to develop high-performance batteries and other related systems. It also plans to support the full-scale production of electric cars in late 2011. Starting in the second half of 2011, the government will promote the sale of electric cars by granting subsidies for state agencies.

It will also consider offering tax incentives. Hyundai Motor Group plans to start selling electric vehicles from 2011. Electric vehicles are operated solely by electric power, while hybrid electric vehicles are powered by both batteries and gasoline.

The new chargers can be applied to electric cars immediately, KEPCO said, and it also has enhanced user-friendly features as it can be remotely controlled, recognize drivers, and accept credit cards.