SEOUL — The urban mobility service wing of South Korea’s web service giant Kakao has partnered with a state power company to launch an electric vehicle charging service that would guide drivers to the nearest and cheapest EV charging station and help them pay with a digital payment system.
South Korea with some 820,000 clean energy vehicles including full-electric, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, has a relatively small charging infrastructure that is mainly built in urban areas. EV drivers have to search for charging stations using a navigation app when they need to charge outside their homes. However, they do not know if there’s an empty charging port ready. Sometimes EV drivers have to wait up to an hour to charge their car.
According to a survey of 1,586 adult consumers conducted by Seoul City in July 2020, 29 percent cited the lack of charging stations as the main factor in delaying the purchase of electric vehicles. EV drivers often complain about the lack of charging infrastructure in online forums and communities.
Kakao Mobility said in a statement on May 17 that the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), a state utility company, to launch a smartphone navigation app-based EV charging guide service called “Charge Planner”. The convenient service will be interlinked to “ChargeLink,” an EV charge roaming service developed by KEPCO.
“This is not a one-time cooperation but it is the beginning of a strategic partnership that will seek to improve the experience of EV owners using various services,” Kakao mobility CEO Alex Ryu was quoted as saying.
Through Charge Planner, users will be able to search for the nearest charging station and make reservations. Payments will be made wirelessly through Kakao T, an integrated mobility service app. KEPCO’s ChargeLink allows drivers to use charging stations operated by different companies.
While Kakao focuses on improving EV ecosystem in urban areas, the Hyundai auto group has set out to solve charging station congestions at expressway service areas.
In March, the company revealed “E-pit,” an ultra-fast charging station capable of charging 80 percent of an EV’s battery in just 18 minutes. Normal chargers take about 40 minutes.