LCQ14: Electric vehicles

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (November 27):


     According to the reply of the Environment Bureau to my question in March this year regarding the Estimates of Expenditure 2013-2014, there were more than 430 units of electric vehicles (EVs) in use on the roads in Hong Kong at that time and, among them, only 75 units belonged to the government fleet, while there were about 150 units to be delivered within this year for use by various government departments. On the other hand, although the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) provides at five of its car parks parking concessions of free parking up to two hours for EVs undergoing electricity charging, it has been reported that the utilisation rate of such charging facilities last year was rather low, being about 175 times only. Regarding the promotion of the use of EVs, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the difficulties it has encountered in using more EVs in the government fleet; whether the Government will consider further increasing the proportion of EVs in the government fleet so as to take the lead; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it has assessed if the existing some 1 000 charging facilities in Hong Kong (including more than 500 installed in government public car parks) are sufficient to cope with the demand; if the assessment result is in the affirmative, of the justifications; if the assessment result is in the negative, the improvement measures to be implemented;

(c) given that the utilisation rate of the charging facilities at HA's car parks was on the low side last year, whether the authorities have taken measures to improve the utilisation rate; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) as the reasons for some members of the public not purchasing EVs are that major vehicle dealers do not sell EVs and the exterior design of EVs is not as attractive as that of ordinary vehicles, whether, apart from continuing to provide economic incentives (including the waiver of First Registration Tax and the Pilot Green Transport Fund) to those who use EVs, the Government will consider implementing in the coming decade policies to encourage vehicle dealers to introduce more EVs into Hong Kong so as to increase the choices available for members of the public; and whether the Government will implement measures to facilitate vehicle dealers to introduce into Hong Kong EVs manufactured on the Mainland; and

(e) of the number of meetings that the Steering Committee on the Promotion of Electric Vehicles, established by the Government in April 2009 and chaired by the Financial Secretary, has held and its major achievements so far?



(a) The Financial Secretary announced in the 2011-12 Budget that subject to the availability of suitable models in the market and the operational needs of bureaux and departments, we will give priority to electric vehicles (EVs) when replacing government vehicles in the two financial years of 2011-12 and 2012-13. We expect an intake of some 200 electric vehicles of various types in these two years. The Chief Executive also announced in the 2013 Policy Address that the Government will continue to take the lead in using more EVs. It is clear that the Government has already set its policy in using EVs and will continue to take lead by giving priority to EVs as long as they meet the operational requirements of departments. We now have 147 EVs in the Government fleet, and another 74 units of EVs will be delivered to various departments from now on until early next year.

     In general, user departments provided positive feedback on the performance of EVs presently in use. However, the proportion of EVs in the Government fleet remains small mainly because the market does not yet have suitable EV models to replace the vehicle types that form the majority in the Government fleet such as refuse collection vehicles, street cleaning vehicles and ambulances.

(b) and (c) A comprehensive public charging network is essential to promoting the wider use of EVs. In this regard, the Government has been working jointly with the private sector to expand the charging network. We now have some 1 000 public charging facilities to serve the EVs, including 500 standard charging facilities in 18 public car parks managed by the Transport Department and Government Property Agency, and around 500 charging facilities installed by other sectors. Among them are the charging facilities installed for public use by the two power companies in different premises. Besides the standard charging facilities, Hong Kong now has ten quick chargers set up at Eastern, Southern, Central and Western, Yau Tsim Mong, Kwun Tong, Sha Tin, North, Yuen Long and Islands Districts. There is one quick charger within around 20 kilometres.

     Regarding the utilisation rate of the charging facilities, based on the electricity consumption of the 500 standard chargers in Government car parks, we estimated that on average about 93 charging operations take place per month per car park. For those standard charging facilities provided by the power companies, including those in car parks managed by the Housing Authority, on average about 12 charging operations take place per month per car park. We do not have the utilisation record of charging facilities provided by private organisations. Each quick charger is used about 61 times per month. Although the utilisation rates of these chargers are not high for the time being, establishing a charging network is vital to promoting the use of EVs. With this "infrastructure-led" approach in mind, we will closely monitor the growth in the number of EVs and the usage of charging facilities, and will consider the need to further expand the charging network in a timely manner.

(d) and (e) Since the use of EVs will give rise to energy efficiency improvement, environmental benefits as well as creating business opportunities, the Government has been actively promoting the wider use of EVs and has set up the Steering Committee on the Promotion of Electric Vehicles in 2009 chaired by the Financial Secretary. Members of the Steering Committee come from relevant sectors, including property developers, transport trades, power companies, research and development institutions and green groups. The Steering Committee has held eight meetings since its establishment and has recommended strategies and specific measures to promote the use of EVs in Hong Kong. The key measures include: encouraging the public and the transport sector to try using EVs by providing financial incentives; the Government taking lead to procure more EVs; liaising closely with vehicle suppliers and manufacturers to encourage them to introduce EVs to Hong Kong and promote their use; and providing charging facilities and technical support, etc. Details of these measures are in the Annex.

     There is no EV production in Hong Kong; all EVs are imported. EV suppliers may apply to the Transport Department for type approval. Once type approval is obtained and vehicle examination is passed, the EV can be registered for use in Hong Kong. Currently, 24 EV models from 7 countries have been obtained type approval from the Transport Department. They include 14 models of private cars/motorcycles and ten models of public transport/commercial vehicles. As the development of EVs is still at an early stage, the number of EV models available cannot be compared directly with that of conventional vehicles. The Government will continue to support the introduction of more EV models to Hong Kong to provide more choices to the public.

     As at end October 2013, there were 552 EVs in use on the roads in Hong Kong. Comparing the only 74 in end 2010 and 242 in end 2011 respectively, the increase is encouraging, which also shows that the number of EVs is gradually increasing with the relevant government promotion policies.

Ends/Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:26