SEOGWIPO, South Korea -- Automakers from around the world are flocking to South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju. Why? It's an ideal, nature-made test bed for electric cars.
The latest arrival is Hyundai Motor Co., which picked Jeju for the domestic launch of the all-electric variant of its new Ioniq eco-vehicle.
Drivers on the compact island find range anxiety an afterthought. A typical electric car can almost circle the coastline on a full battery charge.
What's more, local authorities aim to transform the island into an EV-only zone by 2030, with the entire province and its vehicle fleet powered by renewable energy by then. Indeed, the South Korean government is positioning Jeju as a global test bed for ambitious plans to promote EVs, in part to support Hyundai's rapid rollout of electrified cars.
Some 2,300 EVs are already on the roads of Jeju, nearly half the 5,500 in operation nationwide. With Jeju's population of some 600,000 people, that makes the province the world's biggest EV market, at least on a per-capita basis, says Kim Hyoung-eun, director of the local government's energy industry division.