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LCQ3: Measures to promote environmental-friendly vehicles
     Following is a question by the Hon Frankie Yick and a reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):

     It has been reported that certain countries plan to prohibit the sale of fuel-engined vehicles progressively from 2025 onwards; Germany plans to implement in 2030 a requirement that newly-registered vehicles must meet the zero emission standard; and a Japanese vehicle manufacturer plans to cease from 2050 onwards the production of vehicles which run entirely on fuel. It is thus evident that fuel-engined vehicles are being progressively replaced by more environment-friendly vehicles such as hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers and percentages of hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles among the currently registered vehicles;

(2)  whether the Government assessed in the past three years the effectiveness of the various measures adopted to encourage vehicle buyers to choose environment-friendly vehicles; whether it will introduce new measures to make more vehicle owners switching to use environment-friendly vehicles, and whether it will enact legislation or formulate codes to stipulate a requirement that charging facilities for vehicles must be provided at all parking spaces in newly-constructed buildings; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3)  given that, projected on the basis that each of the 800 000-odd vehicles currently registered across the territory has at least one battery and car batteries generally have a life expectancy of three years, more than 200 000 waste car batteries have to be recycled and processed each year, but only 50 000-odd waste car batteries are currently recycled and processed by competent recyclers each year, and there are comments that the batteries of electric vehicles are much heavier than those of fuel-engined vehicles, the number and weight of waste car batteries to be recycled and processed each year may increase substantially with the growing popularity of electric vehicles, of the Government's measures for proper recycling and disposal of waste car batteries, so as to prevent chemical waste inside the batteries from causing environmental pollution?



(1)  As at October 31, 2016, there were 6 860 registered electric vehicles (EVs) in Hong Kong, most of which were private vehicles. The percentages of EVs among the currently registered vehicles and registered private vehicles were both around one per cent.

     The Transport Department does not compile statistics for registered hybrid vehicles. Based on the types of fuel used by these vehicles, their figures are incorporated into those for registered petrol or diesel vehicles.

(2)  To improve roadside air quality, the Government has been making efforts to encourage vehicle buyers to choose greener vehicles. Measures taken include:

(i) First registration tax concession schemes were introduced for environment-friendly petrol private cars (EFPPCs) and environment-friendly commercial vehicles (EFCVs) in April 2007 and April 2008 respectively. For EFPPCs, as their emission control technology has gradually advanced to such a mature stage that their emission performance is more or less the same as that of common petrol private cars, their first registration tax concession scheme was ended on April 1, 2015, while the one for EFCVs is still in operation.

     The above measures have been effective in encouraging the purchase of green vehicles. From 2013 to the end of 2015, 25 914 EFCVs and 23 525 EFPPCs were approved under the Tax Incentives Scheme for Environment-friendly Commercial Vehicles and the Tax Incentives Scheme for Environment-friendly Petrol Private Cars respectively. The percentages of EFCVs among newly registered commercial vehicles in the respective years ranged from 46 per cent to 59 per cent while the corresponding percentages for EFPPCs ranged from 17 per cent to 28 per cent. Details are set out in Annex 1;

(ii) Enterprises having procured green vehicles (including EVs, hybrid vehicles, EFCVs and EFPPCs) are allowed to have 100 per cent profits tax deduction for the capital expenditure on green vehicles in the first year of procurement from June 2010 onwards;

(iii) First registration tax for EVs have been waived since April 1994. The existing waiver arrangement will be valid until March 31, 2017;

(iv) More EV chargers have been set up in collaboration with the private sector. As at September 2016, there were over 1 466 public chargers of various types in Hong Kong covering all 18 districts, including 957 standard chargers, 323 medium chargers and 186 quick chargers. The Government will continue to closely monitor the development of EVs and ensure the timely expansion and enhancement of public charging facilities to meet the need of EV drivers for charging their vehicles during their journey;

(v) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has established a dedicated team and a hotline (Tel: 3757 6222) to provide relevant information and technical support for those who intend to install charging facilities. It has also issued guidelines on the arrangements and technical requirements for setting up EV charging facilities; and

(vi) Starting from April 2011, the Government has been encouraging developers to put in place basic infrastructure for EV charging facilities (including adequate power supply, electrical wiring and cable ducts) in car parks of new buildings, with a view to facilitating installation of EV chargers in future having regard to the needs of carpark users. Such policy is implemented through granting concessions on Gross Floor Areas for car parks in new buildings. The Buildings Department implements the above measure through the issue of practice notes for building professionals and may revise the practice notes where necessary to implement new measures. From April 2011 to December 2015, nearly 80 per cent of car parking spaces under newly approved development plans have been equipped with the infrastructure for EV charging facilities.
     Over the past three years, the number of EVs increased from 592 at the end of 2013 to 4 198 at the end of 2015. Relevant figures are set out at Annex 2.

(3) There are currently two licensed facilities for disposal of waste lead-acid batteries from conventional fuel-engined vehicles. The one in Yuen Long Industrial Estate exports waste lead-acid batteries, after preliminary treatment, to overseas (e.g. Korea) recycling facilities to extract lead for recycling. On the other hand, waste lead-acid batteries are disposed of at the West New Territories Landfill in Nim Wan, Tuen Mun by way of landfill, according to strict requirements imposed by the EPD for the specific disposal of these batteries at designated areas in the Landfill. All landfills in Hong Kong adopt a closed design and have layers of containment liners to ensure no pollution to the surrounding environment.

     Lithium batteries are mainly used in EVs. Currently, three licensed facilities in Hong Kong are allowed to treat this type of waste battery, including the one mentioned above in Yuen Long Industrial Estate and the other two in Sheung Shui and Fanling. The three facilities will safely pack the collected lithium batteries after preliminary treatment and put them into containers before exporting them to overseas recycling facilities for further treatment, including the ones in Korea and Japan. According to our understanding, EV suppliers are willing to assist their customers in recovering waste EV batteries for proper treatment. The EPD will also continue to closely monitor how they handle waste EV batteries so as to ensure that such batteries can be disposed of properly without affecting the environment.

      In addition, unlike batteries for conventional vehicles, the ones for EVs will still have about 70 per cent to 80 per cent residual energy storage capacity after their retirement and thus can be used for other energy storage purposes. Therefore, in late August this year, we organised the International Competition on Second Life for Retired Batteries from EVs to invite creative and practicable proposals on the reuse of retired EV batteries.

     Waste batteries resulted from the repairs and maintenance of vehicles, be they waste lead-acid batteries from conventional fuel-engined vehicles or waste lithium batteries from EVs, are chemical waste and regulated under the Waste Disposal Ordinance and the subsidiary regulation. Vehicle maintenance service providers handling waste car batteries must register with the EPD, while waste battery collectors and disposal facilities must obtain licenses from the EPD according to the law. Any party involved in the illegal disposal of waste car batteries is subject to prosecution.
Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:40
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