Charging ahead with electric vehicles

Top News | Michael Shum 18 Mar 2021

Hong Kong plans to increase charging stations to 155,000 by 2025 as it launched the first roadmap to popularize electric vehicles yesterday.

Registration of new vehicles with internal combustion engines, including hybrids, will be stopped by 2035, under the Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularization of Electric Vehicles.

To encourage people to go electric, the plan will increase private electric charging facilities to 150,000 and public facilities to 5,000 four years from now.

In September 2019, there were 2,506 public chargers, a document to the Legislative Council shows.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said yesterday the government will look into potentially requiring all parking spaces in new private buildings to be equipped with charging facilities.The scheme would be a stepped-up version of an existing scheme, which encourages developers to install charging infrastructure for gross floor area concessions for car parks, Wong said.

The government will take the lead to procure and replace small to medium private cars with electric vehicles.

Tens of millions of dollars will be spent on trials for electric buses, both single and double deckers, as well as e-mini buses, officials said. But there isn't a timetable for commercial vehicles to go electric. A more definite program will be available in 2025.

Undersecretary for the environment Tse Chin-wan said the government was using gross floor area concessions to attract developers to install charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in new developments, but some still opted not to join. "Although 80 to 90 percent joined the scheme, there were still some that opted not to join," Tse said.

"We are now considering ways to require parking spaces in new private buildings to be equipped with charging infrastructure, which will make those that opted not to join want to also install chargers in their car parks."

The roadmap also said the government will install charging points for public transport at public transport interchanges of new development areas, while also exploring the feasibility of converting petrol and LPG filling stations to charging stations.

The deputy director of environmental protection, Owin Fung Ho-yin, said as vehicles will start turning electric, demand for petrol and LPG filling stations will gradually decrease.

"We are trying to take this opportunity to turn them into charging stations, and this would be of great help in increasing the number of charging points in Hong Kong in the mid-term," Fung said.

He added the transition would be visible in five to 10 years.

Fees for electric vehicle charging at government car parks will be imposed from about 2025.

Wong said that the roadmap's target is to achieve zero vehicular emissions before 2050 in Hong Kong, which is in line with Hong Kong's target to achieve carbon neutrality before then.

The president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association, Ringo Lee Yiu-pui, called the roadmap disappointing as it failed to provide incentives for citizens to switch to electric vehicles.

He said auto factories had already announced they would stop producing petrol vehicles by 2035.

"What is the point of stopping registering those vehicles at that time?"

Clean Air Network also slammed the roadmap for lacking new thinking to address existing challenges, especially electrifying commercial vehicles and public transport.

"The roadmap should establish a policy vision, targets and measures for transitioning commercial vehicles and public transport to new energy mode," the group said.

But WWF-Hong Kong said it welcomes the roadmap, especially on the government's vision of zero carbon emissions.

"We support the government's plan to gradually phase out fuel-propelled private cars by 2035 and the roadmap aligns with WWF-Hong Kong's call for a low-carbon city that will help transform Hong Kong into Asia's most sustainable city," it said.

michael.shum@singtaonewscorp.com



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