More drivers plug­ging in to elec­tric trans­porta­tion

China Daily European Weekly - - Cover Story - By CHEN YINGQUN cheny­ingqun@chi­

As tra­di­tional ve­hi­cles be­come a prob­lem and tech­nol­ogy im­proves, mo­torists are in­creas­ingly mak­ing the switch

As soon as Bei­jing res­i­dent Lu Xinchun heard that charg­ing sta­tions were be­ing con­structed in his com­mu­nity, he de­cided to buy an elec­tric car. It was al­most five years since he had first ap­plied for a gaso­line car li­cense plate, and he was still wait­ing.

The lat­est prop­er­tion of ap­proval for gaso­line car li­cense plates in Bei­jing is now about 0.1 per­cent of ap­pli­cants, while get­ting an elec­tric car plate is al­most prob­lem-free as the gov­ern­ment is en­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents to buy such ve­hi­cles.

Pol­icy in­cen­tives, sub­si­dies and charg­ing fa­cil­i­ties are im­prov­ing, while dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting gaso­line car li­cense plates in megac­i­ties are mak­ing more Chi­nese con­sumers keen on buy­ing elec­tric cars, says Gao Xiaob­ing, as­sis­tant to the di­rec­tor of Shen­zhen Gao­gong In­dus­try Re­search.

A re­cent re­port from con­sul­tancy Roland Berger said that 35 per­cent of all cus­tomers world­wide are con­sid­er­ing buy­ing an elec­tric ve­hi­cle next time, clearly led by Asian coun­tries (In­dia, 65 per­cent, China, 60 per­cent and South Korea, 55 per­cent).

China re­mains world’s largest mar­ket in terms of to­tal sales, with 180,000 ve­hi­cles sold in the first half of 2017, the re­port says.

In early Novem­ber, a doc­u­ment co-is­sued by the Peo­ple’s Bank Of China and the China Bank­ing Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion for the first time said that when buy­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles, con­sumers could get loans.

Start­ing in 2018, buy­ers of elec­tric ve­hi­cles will be able to bor­row up to 85 per­cent of the cost from banks. The max­i­mum loan for cars us­ing tra­di­tional fuel is set at 80 per­cent.

Pur­chases of fos­sil-fuel cars and elec­tric ve­hi­cles for com­mer­cial use will qual­ify for smaller loan ra­tios of 70 per­cent and 75 per­cent, re­spec­tively, it said.

“Even with a small amount of money in hand, I could af­ford to take home an elec­tric car,” Lu Xinchun says. “Not to men­tion there are also sub­si­dies. So I think it is a good deal to get an elec­tric car. ”

China, the world’s largest auto mar­ket, sees elec­tric ve­hi­cles as a way to ease pres­sure on the en­vi­ron­ment. Mea­sures are in place to en­cour­age their use, in­clud­ing tax ex­emp­tions, dis­counts and an or­der for gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions to buy more of them.

More than 30 prov­inces and ci­ties are giv­ing fur­ther sub­sidy in­cen­tives to en­cour­age con­sumers to choose elec­tric over gaso­line.

The State Coun­cil has said that China will build more than 12,000 new charg­ing sta­tions be­fore 2020 to meet the needs of more than 5 mil­lion elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

With the war on pol­lu­tion in full swing, China has sig­naled its in­ten­tion to join coun­tries such as Bri­tain and France in ban­ning the man­u­fac­ture and sale of cars run­ning on tra­di­tional fuel.

China’s Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy dis­closed in Septem­ber that the coun­try had started re­search on a timetable to phase out pro­duc­tion and sales of fos­sil fuel cars.

Gao says that, at present, Chi­nese con­sumers are very ac­tive in pur­chas­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles but they still have con­cerns, in­clud­ing the dis­tance elec­tric ve­hi­cles can travel, the time it takes to charge them, a lack of charg­ing sta­tions and a lim­ited choice of ve­hi­cles.

“Many con­sumers in megac­i­ties choose to buy elec­tric cars be­cause it is much harder to get gaso­line car li­cense plates,” he says.

“But with more car­mak­ers de­sign­ing more prod­ucts and charg­ing fa­cil­i­ties be­com­ing bet­ter, elec­tric cars will be more at­trac­tive for con­sumers. I think in the next few years, the trend of buy­ing elec­tric cars will be stronger.”

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