As of 2019, the number of newly registered electric-powered vehicles in South Korea grew by about 15 percent compared to the previous year. Out of over 601 thousand registered green vehicles nationwide, 506 thousand were hybrid cars and 90 thousand were pure electric vehicles. Hyundai Motor Company started mass production of green vehicles in 2009 and recently recorded global cumulative sales of one million units. Hyundai’s Kona EV, released in 2018, received the title of best-selling electric vehicle model in the domestic market in 2019. The most popular Korean EV model abroad was Kia’s Niro EV, which was exported to 60 countries in 2019. Currently, the share of green cars in domestic car exports exceeds ten percent and is expected to increase to 25 percent by 2030.
The battery is one of the most important parts of electric vehicles. South Korea has been focusing on the electric vehicle battery business for quite some time. South Korea's lithium-ion battery export value has increased significantly in recent years, as the electric vehicle market has grown. Leading Korean battery manufacturers are LG Chem, Samsung SDI, and SK Innovation, with three battery companies accounting for 15 percent of the global battery market in 2019. Sales of LG Chem increased mainly due to a sharp increase in sales of the Audi eTron, Hyundai Kona EV, and Jaguar i-Face etc. Samsung SDI’s batteries are mainly shipped to Volkswagen and BMW, and SK Innovation to Kia and also Volkswagen.
Changing public perception of environmental issues are driving the transition to environmentally friendly automobiles (the so-called green vehicles). Particularly, the particulate matter that pollutes Korea's sky, originating from China, also known as “fine dust,” is arousing public interest in the environment. A survey found that nearly half of Korean respondents considered purchasing electric vehicles. Also, the mileage at full charge was selected as the factor to consider most when purchasing electric vehicles. In terms of price, Korean consumers are willing to buy an electric car even if the price for an EV is higher than conventional cars. Nevertheless, tax relief and financial support for subsidies related to the purchase of electric vehicles have been shown to be the biggest motivation for purchasing electric vehicles. The government's recently announced policy of expanding financial support for EV purchases is expected to attract Korean consumers.