Retired South Korean teacher becomes electric car advocate

Namgung Yun, 57, is a retired high school physics teacher crazy about 3D printing. Recently, he added another line to his profile — advocate for electric cars.

He bought an electric car — an Ioniq made by Hyundai Motor Co. — in December and was awarded a million won charging coupon as the 10,000th consumer.

“I had no idea,” Namgung said. “A car dealer told me and the Ministry of Environment called me later, too.” The ministry had a major promotional event for electric vehicles and invited him to an awards ceremony in December.

The retired teacher said he was mainly compelled by curiosity. “I’ve seen a Tesla car and others online,” he said. “I wanted to try one.”

But he said without the subsidy, he would not have been able to make up his mind.

The car cost about 40 million won, including taxes, and 18 million won was covered by the subsidy, which came from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Ministry of Environment.

Despite model differences, the subsidy covers almost half the cost.

He said his car is already paying off because charging is so cheap.

“Compared to gasoline-based cars, the cost is almost one-third,” Namgung said, showing an online receipt for 8,000 won. He can charge it at home by plugging into a power outlet, but uses public places because they are faster.

He is also happy with the car’s mileage. He can drive 194 kilometers on a fully charged battery. He hasn’t made any long-distance trips outside Seoul and the metropolitan area, but said he is not worried. “Highway rest areas have chargers.”

The government has promised to put at least one charger at every highway gas station by the end of the year.

Namgung is also happy with the noise level of the car. “It’s very quiet inside.” He also has much more room for storage. “Usually, it’s only a trunk in the back where I could keep things, but in this new car, I have storage space under the hood.”

He said many people do not know about electric cars and those who do have biased opinions. “The government should first make public outreach efforts,” he said. “I want more people to try them. It’s worth trying. It’s more economical in the long term and makes the air cleaner.”

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