Automobiles

Seoul partners with BMW and others to encourage drivers to go electric

The new partnership between the South Korean city and BMW, GM, Kia, and Renault Samsung sees prospective electric car buyers being offered up to $24,825 in incentives.

Seoul will be offering incentives to residents who purchase electric cars such as the BMW i3. BMW

BMW, GM, Kia, and Renault Samsung have partnered with the city government of Seoul to bolster usage of electric cars in the bustling city. According to local news reports, Seoul's "2014 Civilian Supply of Electric Cars Program" has the city has offering to provide 20 million won or around $18,425 for residents who buy electric vehicles from any of the four partner companies.

For corporate and organizational buyers, the city is also offering an additional 7 million won or $6,400 for installing charging stations in their parking facilities.

Adoption of electric vehicles as mode of transport has been relatively slow for Seoul. While lack of charging stations is a concern, the delay is mainly attributable to local laws that prohibit electric vehicles from entering roads with speed limits higher than 60 kilometres per hour.

That makes up nearly 335 kilometres of beltways and highways in a city where traffic congestion is a habitual issue. Government regulators remain adamant about lifting this ban, claiming that safety standards and performance output of electric vehicles are not up to par with high-speed road conditions, making them prone to car accidents.

While the new measures should help push adoption, car makers such as BMW are also offering extra incentives.

According to reports, BMW i3 buyers will be privy to the "BMW i3 Link Package," which allows buyers to test-drive and rent BMW's entire lineup of cars for ten days within one year.

Furthermore, BMW Korea is reported to be expanding infrastructure needed to support the usage of electric cars in Seoul, where there are less than 1,500 electric cars out of the 20 million cars registered. The car marker has promised to install more than 120 charging docks adjacent to popular city destinations such as mega-marts, department stores, movie theaters and hotels.

The entry model BMW i3 LUX commands a price tag of 57.5 million won or $52,933 in Korea. With the funding support from Seoul, the price drops to 37.5 million won or $34,480.