LCQ18: Policies and measures to promote 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 (October 25):


     The Government indicated in the 2009-2010 Policy Address that the policy objective of promoting electric vehicles (EVs) was to make Hong Kong one of the Asian region where EVs were most widely used. While the number of registered electric private vehicles surged by 152 times from 69 in April 2011 to 10 588 in April 2017, the number of public recharging facilities for EVs increased merely from 872 in 2011 to 1 518 in 2016, or by an increase of less than one-fold. Regarding the policy and measures to promote EVs, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the authorities have studied the reasons why the increase in the number of public recharging facilities for EVs lagged far behind the increase in the number of electric private vehicles;

(2) given that starting from this financial year, the Government has changed the first registration tax concessions for electric private vehicles from full exemption to setting a cap at $97,500, how the number of electric private vehicles newly registered in the first two quarters of this financial year compares with the numbers in the same periods of the past three years;

(3) of the number of complaints, received by the authorities from owners of electric private vehicles in the past three years, about public recharging space for EVs being occupied by non-EVs;

(4) as the Government has proposed in the latest Policy Agenda to continue to enhance the recharging network for EVs, of the details of the relevant plan;

(5) as the Government has proposed in the latest Policy Agenda to install a new generation of on-street parking meters which can provide parking space vacancy information and accept remote payment through mobile applications, whether the authorities will consider fitting public recharging facilities ancillary to the new parking meters; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(6) given that the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) has established a dedicated team and a hotline to provide information for people who intend to install recharging facilities, of the number of cases for which EMSD provided technical support in the past three years and, among them, the number of cases with installation of recharging facilities completed, together with a breakdown by the type of the party (e.g. property management companies, operators of private car parks) who had sought support in the said cases; and

(7) of the work achievements of the Steering Committee on the Promotion of Electric Vehicles since its establishment?



     In Hong Kong, the major sources of roadside air pollution are commercial vehicles including public transport vehicles and lorries. They account for about 95 per cent of the overall local vehicular emissions of respirable suspended particulates and nitrogen oxides. As electric vehicles (EVs) have no tailpipe emissions, in order to improve roadside air quality, the Government is committed to promoting the use of electric commercial vehicles (e-CVs) in place of their conventional counterparts. We have also set up the Pilot Green Transport Fund (PGTF) to try out green transport technologies, and have fully subsidised franchised bus companies to purchase single-deck electric buses and related charging facilities for trial on a number of routes. The technology of e-CVs is still under development. Moreover, the hilly terrain in Hong Kong and the need to have air-conditioning during summer require batteries of e-CVs to have a higher driving range. We are hence still looking for e-CVs that can cater for the conditions and operational needs in Hong Kong.

     As for private cars, the Government's transport policy has been "underpinned by public transport services with railways as its backbone". Therefore, we encourage the public to use public transport as far as possible, and should they need to acquire private cars, choose EVs.

     My specific responses to the Hon Chan Hak-kan's questions are as follows:

(1) and (4) As the technology of electric private cars (e-PCs) has made much advancement in recent years, their performance and driving ranges (upon full charging) can broadly meet local drivers' needs. Moreover, the price difference between e-PCs and their conventional counterparts is narrowing down, and thus the number of e-PCs has recorded significant growth over the past four years.

     Although the growth of e-PCs is much greater than that of public charging facilities, it should be stressed that, different from the situation of conventional fueled vehicles, EV owners should perform daily charging of their EVs by using charging facilities at their home, workplace or other suitable places (including dedicated charging locations provided by car dealers). Public charging facilities are supplementary in nature, set up merely for EVs to top up their batteries to complete their journeys at times of occasional needs. EV owners should not rely on public charging facilities for charging their EVs on a daily basis.

     Currently, Hong Kong has about 1 770 public chargers (Note), including around 580 medium chargers and some 300 quick chargers, across the 18 districts in Hong Kong. In general, the daily mileage of private cars in Hong Kong is a few tens of kilometres (km), and the driving range of EVs varies from about 150 km to over 300 km. As such, an EV should be able to sustain a whole day's journey after a full charging at its owner's home or workplace. The need for private EVs to top up their batteries by public chargers should be minimal.

     Regarding charging facilities for EVs, the Government facilitates market development and encourages private establishments to put in place EV charging installations in parking spaces they provide for the public. With effect from 2011, concessions on gross floor area for car parks in new buildings have been granted and extended in phases so as to encourage developers to put in place the necessary EV charging infrastructure (including provision of sufficient power supply, cables and ducts) in the buildings concerned. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has also established a dedicated team and a hotline (3757 6222) to provide information and technical support for individuals interested in installing charging facilities (see the reply to item (6) for details). We have also issued guidelines on the arrangements and technical requirements for installing charging facilities.

     Moreover, the two power companies are upgrading their existing public standard chargers to medium chargers, as well as installing multi-standard quick chargers. Some EV charging service providers and EV suppliers also continue to install more EV charging facilities at public venues.

     As regards government car parks, the Government has been installing/upgrading charging facilities therein for supplementary charging. To enhance the charging efficiency of the public charging facilities, the Government has been progressively upgrading standard chargers in the government car parks to medium speed level to reduce the charging time by around 60 per cent. Over the past four years, 274 standard chargers in the government car parks have been upgraded to medium chargers, with another 96 to follow suit by next April.

     The Government will closely monitor the development of EVs, including the utilisation rate of public charging facilities and will continue to explore ways to collaborate with the business sector in further enhancing supplementary public charging facilities. However, all potential buyers should give careful consideration to future charging arrangements before buying e-PCs and should not rely on public charging facilities to serve as their principal charging facilities.

(2) Based on the information of the Transport Department (TD), a comparison of the number of e-PCs first registered in the first two quarters of this fiscal year with those of the same period over the past three years is detailed in Annex 1.
(3) At present, e-PCs only account for about 2 per cent of the total number of registered private cars. Given the supplementary nature of charging facilities provided in the government car parks and the principle that users of EVs and all other vehicles should be treated alike for full utilisation of parking space resources, public parking spaces installed with charging facilities are not designated for exclusive use by EVs. That said, contractors of the Government Property Agency and TD will, depending on the utilisation situation of the government car parks, arrange for traffic cones to be placed and notices to be displayed at parking spaces installed with charging facilities to reserve such spaces for priority use by EVs during non-peak hours whenever practicable. Based on the TD's information, the number of complaints received in the past three years about parking spaces in the government car parks installed with charging facilities being occupied by non-e-PCs are set out in Annex 2.

(5) Provision of on-street parking spaces by the TD is to cater for temporary parking needs and such spaces are usually installed with parking meters to prevent prolonged occupation. The Government will continue to pay attention to the development of EVs and their charging infrastructure, and will study this suggestion when necessary.

     To assess the reliability of outdoor charging facilities, the EPD is also conducting a pilot scheme at the open car parks in four government premises managed by contractors. A total of 11 outdoor medium chargers have been separately installed at the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department Headquarters, Hong Kong Wetland Park, Wai Tsuen Sports Centre and Shek Kip Mei Park. We will review findings of the pilot scheme in 2018 to consider whether more outdoor charging facilities can be installed in other government premises.

(6) As mentioned above, the EPD has established a dedicated team and a hotline to provide relevant information and technical support for those who intend to install charging facilities. In the past three years, the EPD has received a total of 435 enquiries on installation of charging facilities and has provided the enquirers with the necessary information and technical support as detailed in Annex 3. Since the enquirers have not been required to notify the EPD after their installation of charging facilities, we do not have the number of cases of successful installation upon making enquiry.

     Apart from the EPD hotline, the two power companies also render one-stop services to install charging facilities at EV owners' parking spaces. This includes site inspection, provision of technical advice, inspection of completed charging installation and connection of power supply. With the growth in the number of EVs, there are several private companies in the market that provide EV owners, housing estates or business establishments with one-stop EV charging services, including installation of charging facilities at EV owners' parking spaces and provision of charging services at other specified locations. Currently, these companies have installed charging facilities in around 30 housing estates across a number of districts in Hong Kong to provide charging services for e-PCs.

(7) The Government set up the Steering Committee on the Promotion of Electric Vehicles (Committee) in April 2009 chaired by the Financial Secretary to proactively promote the use of EVs. The Committee advises on various strategies and measures in promoting the use of EVs in Hong Kong for the Government's careful consideration and implementation. Key measures implemented include the followings:

i. setting up the PGTF to test out green transport technologies. As at October 2017, the PGTF approved 109 trials among which 55 were on e-CVs. A total of 78 e-CVs were involved, including three taxis, 21 coaches, three light buses and 51 goods vehicles;

ii. promoting the use of EVs in the public transport sector. The Government is fully subsidising the franchised bus companies to purchase 36 single-deck electric buses (including 28 battery-electric buses and 8 supercapacitor buses) and related charging facilities for trial on a number of routes to assess their operational efficiency and performance under the local conditions. Currently, 18 battery-electric buses and two supercapacitor buses are on their two-year trials. Franchised bus companies are also arranging for the remaining electric buses to progressively commence operation;

iii. various measures mentioned in items (1) and (4) above on increasing and enhancing charging facilities;

iv. subject to the operational requirements of the departments and the supply of EV models in the market, the Government takes the lead in using more EVs. As at the end of September 2017, there are 244 EVs in the Government fleet; and

v. holding the International Competition on Second Life for Retired Batteries from Electric Vehicles to encourage the trade to explore ways to make good use of retired batteries.

Note: Including charging facilities installed at public car parks in government or private premises (such as shopping malls) for public use.

Ends/Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:25