The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it has started commercial operation of eco-friendly full-size electric buses on the Mt. Namsan circular routes, Seoul Metropolitan Government said in a statement.

SMG has worked on the project to develop full-sized electric buses with local technology over the last one and a half years, since it signed an agreement with Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hankuk Fiber for the development of electric buses in September 2009, the SMG said.

The vehicles will run on Seoul's Namsan Mountain circuit, a central route for the entire city, especially North of Seoul's Han river. The buses are about 36 feet long, only require 30 minutes to charge when using a high-speed battery charger, can run up to 51.6 miles on a single charge, and have a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour.

Similar fleets have been rolled out in other cities - such as Los Angeles and Mumbai - in generally small numbers as a way to road-test the buses, but Seoul has announced that half of its public transport vehicles will be electric by 2020. The state of California, by way of comparison, wants buses with zero tailpipe emissions to constitute only 15 percent of public agency bus orders in 2012.

The transition to electric buses underscores Seoul's increasing effort to be a global leader in the electric vehicle market and an example of a bustling, eco-progressive Asian capital. The city has recently also announced its intentions to be a 'Green-Car, Smart City' and has made huge strides to improve waterways, plant trees, and create green space, despite its population of 10.4 million people and an over-abundance of cars crowding the city.

SMG expects that the electric bus service has enabled Seoul City to move one step further toward a 'Green-Car, Smart City'. SMG has set a goal of putting a total of 120,000 electric vehicles in use in the city by 2020, which will account to 50 percent of all public transport vehicles, 10 percent of sedans and 1 percent of trucks and vans.