As I drove to work this morning, I chanced upon a new model Korean-brand SUV along the highway. I couldn’t help but notice the sleek exteriors and was again impressed by what seemed to me, at least from where I was sitting, was a nicely performing vehicle along a road that was already starting to congest with morning traffic and with pavements still under rehabilitation. As I pulled ahead of the vehicle, I was able to appreciate its front design (the snout in particular) and noticed its lights that were very much similar to those already being used by late model German cars. Of course, the initial reaction would be that perhaps the Korean vehicle was a copy of the original European one. However, I was also aware that Korea already had strong partnerships with leading German automakers and routinely benchmarked their vehicles with their German counterparts. In fact, there are models of German vehicles that were and are developed and tested in Korea, which
I believe that much of the Korean vehicle manufacturers’ success in the design and development of vehicles that are at par if not better than its European counterparts may be attributed to Korea’s testing and research facilities. At the head of the effort for vehicle development and testing is the Korea Transportation Safety Authority or TS, and they work closely with other institutions including the very influential Korea Transport Institute (KOTI). It is a good example of a successful working relationship between government, the private sector and the academe.
I was fortunate to have been able to visit the Korean testing and research facilities back in 2009. At that time, I was part of a small party from the Philippines attending the Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Seoul, and was among those invited by Korean Transportation Safety Authority (TS) to visit the Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute. We were very impressed with their facilities and perhaps could only dream of having a similar one in the Philippines. We were toured around the different areas where various tests were being conducted and I was particularly interested in the proving grounds where new models were being tested for various operating conditions. I have some photos taken of the research and testing facilities but I defer from posting these here as there might be some restrictions applicable. Also, I’m afraid my photos won’t do justice to the impressive facilities at KATRI. Nevertheless, I have provided the links to the websites of the institutions I mentioned above for easy reference for anyone interested in their activities. The details may be found there and there are many photos and illustrations that would allow anyone who would at least browse their website to have an idea of just how far Korea has made progress in vehicle development and how much effort they put in to ensure safety on the part of the vehicle.