SOUTH KOREA: Singapore eyes Korean-made CNG buses

By just-auto.com editorial team | 15 February 2005

South Korea is seeking to export low emission buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) to Singapore in 2008 as the two countries move to increase co-operation over the fuel technology, the Korea Times reported.

Environment Minister Kwak Kyul-ho will sign a memorandum of understanding on the co-operation on CNG technology with Singaporean Ambassador to Seoul Calvin Eu, paving the way for the export of low-emission buses to the Southeast Asian nation, the paper added.

The signing of the MOU was made possible after leaders of the two countries agreed to sign a Free Trade Agreement last November - it is designed to promote bilateral exchanges on CNG bus technology.

The paper said the two countries began discussing the technology collaboration in March 2004, when Singaporean environmental officials went to South Korea to participate in the ministerial environmental forum of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

The Singaporean officials showed interest in the Korean CNG buses, observing its smooth operation and competitive prices, 40% cheaper than those from European countries and Japan. Then they agreed with the Korean government to further talks for signing the MOU.

Korea introduced the buses in 2000 and 5,752 CNG buses are in operation.

"With the MOU, we expect up to 320 billion won of sales of CNG buses from 2008 to 2025, which translates into 19 billion won of annual sales," Cho Byoung-og, official in charge of the ministry, told the Korea Times.

According to Cho, there are currently 3,600 public buses operating in Singapore and they are to be replaced with CNG buses from 2008 as the nation will adopt stricter emissions standards next year.

The ministry estimates the Korean product will take a 50% share of the, which means 1,800 Korean-made CNG buses will be running in Singapore. The export price of a Korean CNG bus is estimated at 180 million won.

The export of CNG buses to Singapore is also expected to enable Korea to expand into other Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia and the Philippines are considering introducing CNG buses.

"We will intensively promote the capacity and pro-environment features of our CNG buses to the nations vying to purchase them,'' Cho said, according to the Korea Times.