E-ve­hi­cle driv­ers call for more power

De­spite gov­ern­ment poli­cies de­signed to re­duce traf­fic jams and con­trol pol­lu­tion, wider adop­tion of elec­tric cars is be­ing ham­pered by a lack of charg­ing fa­cil­i­ties na­tion­wide. Du Juan re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - Con­tact the writer at du­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Al­though she was sweat­ing in her car, Li Yusi, an of­fice worker in Bei­jing, couldn’t risk turn­ing on the air con­di­tion­ing as she drove to work un­der the blaz­ing sum­mer sun.

Li, who­drivesan­elec­tric car, was wor­ried that engaging the air con­di­tion­ing would con­sume too much elec­tric­ity and leave her short­of­pow­er­for the re­turn jour­ney.

“It sounds a bit ridicu­lous, right?” she said. “When some­one buys a car, they want con­ve­nience­and­com­fort. In­stead, Ihave to­suf­fer heat in­sum­mer and cold in win­ter to en­sure my car doesn’t run out of power.”

Many elec­tric car own­ers have had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences, es­pe­cially the anx­i­ety of search­ing for a charg­ing sta­tion as they­watchtheir bat­tery drain even fur­ther.

Lim­ited bat­tery range and a lack of charg­ing sta­tions are the big­gest prob­lems fac­ing driv­ers of elec­tric cars. That’s de­spite the fact that new en­ergy ve­hi­cles are the best op­tion in con­gested cities such as Bei­jing and Shang­hai, where it’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to ob­tain li­cense plates for tra­di­tional gas-pow­ered ve­hi­cles.

Li­cense plate lottery

China’s roads are clogged: In Jan­uary, a state­ment from the Min­istry of Pub­lic Security showed that 23.85 mil­lion new cars were reg­is­tered last year, tak­ing car own­er­ship to 172 mil­lion.

The num­ber of new-en­ergy cars was 583,200, a rise of more than 169 per­cent from 2014.

Mean­while, in the first half of this year, sales ofnewen­ergy cars reached 126,000 units, a year-on-year in­crease of 162 per­cent. By the end of June, Bei­jing had awarded 38,170 li­cense plates for elec­tric cars, ac­count­ing for 75 per­cent of the an­nual quota.

Measures to tackle the prob­lem have long been in place. In late 2010, the Bei­jing gov­ern­ment an­nounced new reg­u­la­tions on ve­hi­cle li­cense plates in a bid to re­duce both traf­fic jams and pol­lu­tion.

Now, prospec­tive driv­ers have to ap­ply for li­cense plates for a con­ven­tional ve­hi­cle via an on­line lottery. Un­til they have the plates, they are not al­lowed to buy a car.

When the first lottery was launched in early 2011, about one ap­pli­cant in 11 ob­tained li­cense plates, but as the num­ber of prospec­tive driv­ers rose, a surge in de­mand for plates saw their chances fall sharply. By May, only one in ev­ery 693 ap­pli­cants had a chance of ob­tain­ing plates, ac­cord­ing to data sup­plied by the Bei­jing gov­ern­ment.

“I ap­plied for a li­cense plate for five suc­ces­sive years, but I never had any luck in the lottery,” Li said. “I gave birth last year, which­madeit es­sen­tial to buya car for ev­ery­day use. I felt as though I would never get a LiWei, li­cense plate, so I de­cided to buyan­elec­tronic car so I didn’t have to suf­fer the lottery.”

China’s pledge to re­duce car­bon emis­sions in 2030 by 50 to 60 per­cent of the 2005 level has re­sulted in a se­ries of poli­cies to boost green en­ergy.

Oneof the poli­cies­en­cour­ages the use of new en­ergy ve­hi­cles by mak­ing li­cense plates avail­able on de­mand and pro­vid­ing gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies for man­u­fac­tur­ers and pur­chasers.

Sub­si­dies

Li Wei plans to buy an elec­tric car priced at 180,000 yuan ($27,000). The cen­tral gov­ern­ment will pro­vide a sub­sidy of 45,000 yuan, while the Bei­jing gov­ern­ment will pro­vide a fur­ther 45,000 yuan, ef­fec­tively halv­ing the price of the car.

The 31-year-old will also ben­e­fit from a rul­ing that ex­empts new en­ergy ve­hi­cles from pur­chase tax, which will save him a fur­ther 7,500 yuan.

That’s a good deal, given that in Shang­hai, where prospec­tive driv­ers of gas-pow­ered cars have to at­tend pre­pur­chase li­cense plate auc­tions, the go­ing rate for plates is about 90,000 yuan.

The dif­fi­culty of ob­tain­ing li­cense plates for con­ven­tional cars in Bei­jing, and the soar­ing prices in Shang­hai are the big­gest in­cen­tives for choos­ing elec­tric cars.

“Ac­tu­ally, an elec­tric car is my sec­ond choice. To be hon­est, I’mstill hes­i­tat­ing be­cause friends have warned me that it’s dif­fi­cult to find charg­ing poles in res­i­den­tial build­ings, and a few days ago I dis­cov­ered that only five park­ing lots in my com­mu­nity are equipped­with charg­ing poles,” LiWei said.

“Those five lots have al­ready been rented, which means I would have to use a pub­lic park­ing lot with charg­ing ser­vices in a shop­ping mall near my home,” he added.

“Some gas sta­tions pro­vide charg­ing ser­vices for elec­tric cars, but they are too far from where I live. Plus, there are al­ways long lines of cars wait­ing to be charged,” he said. “I re­ally don’t want to spend sev­eral hours a week charg­ingmy car.”

He sug­gested the best way to pro­mote wider use of elec­tric ve­hi­cles would be to raise the num­ber of charg­ing poles in pub­lic ar­eas and in­tro­duce reg­u­la­tions­de­mand­ingthat de­vel­op­ers in­cor­po­rate park­ing lots for elec­tric ve­hi­cles in their res­i­den­tial projects.

“The city gov­ern­ment will sup­port res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties in build­ing charg­ing poles, and es­tab­lish an on­line plat­form so driv­ers can ap­ply to in­stall pri­vate charg­ing poles in their own park­ing lots,” said Xu Xin­chao, head of the new en­ergy and new ma­te­ri­als de­part­ment at the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Science and Tech­nol­ogy Com­mis­sion.

In the mean­time, Bei­jing is con­sid­er­ing in­tro­duc­ing “mo­bile charg­ing fa­cil­i­ties” that could be sent to the as­sis­tance of elec­tric car driv­ers in re­mote ar­eas, he said.

Ac­tu­ally, an elec­tric car is my sec­ond choice. To be hon­est, I’m still hes­i­tat­ing be­cause friends have warned me that it’s dif­fi­cult to find charg­ing poles ...” a Bei­jing res­i­dent who plans to buy an elec­tric car

LIANG ZHEN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Work­ers in a work­shop at Kangdi Elec­tric Ve­hi­cles Group in Changx­ing, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

LIU HAILONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A tech­ni­cian uses a charg­ing pole to charge an elec­tric ve­hi­cle in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince.

CAO YANG / XIN­HUA

A driver sits be­hind the wheel of an elec­tric car he has rented from a car ser­vice in Taiyuan, Shanxi prov­ince, in July.

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