Hong Kong's push for electric vehicles

The government’s new measures could make electric vehicles more popular in Hong Kong
March 29, 2023

The Government announced the Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles in March 2021. 

The idea was simple, set out a long-term policy, objectives, and plans to increase the adoption of EVs and their facilities.

This Roadmap also details the future direction and most notably the goal of being a zero vehicular emission city by 2050. 

The goal goes along with the government’s target of reaching carbon neutrality within the same time frame. Their vision is:

“Zero Carbon Emissions - Clean Air - Smart City”

What are the government’s specific measures to promote the use of Electric Vehicles and the financial incentives?

Here are a few key measures that have been announced in the Roadmap:

Franchised bus companies have been allocated a total of $180 million to purchase new single-deck electric buses. 

These should count as trial runs to assess their overall performance and efficiency in Hong Kong’s particular conditions.

Regarding company purchases of EVs, companies are allowed 100% profits tax deduction for the capital expenditure on EVs in their first year of procurement.

The old “Pilot Green Transport Fund” dating back to March 2011 is becoming the “New Energy Transport Fund”. It aims to encourage the transport sector and non-profit organizations to test out low-carbon and green technologies. This includes the use of commercial electric vehicles.

Promoting the use of Evs only works if you also enable charging stations, making the whole process easier to use and more convenient. 

Part of the plan is to promote the installation of electric vehicle charging-enabling infrastructure in car parks of existing private residential buildings. 

This has been announced in the 2019 Policy Address, which promises a $2 billion subsidy scheme. 

Since then, the government has added $1.5 billion to the existing “EV-charging at Home Subsidy Scheme” or EHSS. 

The ongoing estimates are that the EHSS will support the installation of some 140,000 parking spaces in about 700 car parks. 

To put this number into perspective, this represents about half the parking spaces available in the city of Hong Kong. 

Note that all valid applications received will be processed based on the first-come-first-served principle until the whole fund is used.

The FRT or First Registration Tax concessions for electric motorcycles and electric motor tricycles will be entirely waived. Private electric cars are also impacted but slightly differently:

  • Electric private cars will see their FRT waived up to $97,500
  • Private car owners can also enjoy a higher FRT concession if they arrange to scrap and de-register their own eligible old private car and then first register a new electric private vehicle of up to $287,500. 
  • This applies under the '“One-for-One-Replacement” Scheme. 
  • Also, note that eligible old private cars encompass both private cars with an internal combustion engine and electric private cars.

Deep dive into the numbers of Electric Vehicles (EV)

Looking at the numbers from the end of September 2022, 5,283 EV chargers are available for public use. 

This includes 961 quick chargers and 2,871 medium chargers in Hong Kong’s 18 districts. 

These can be easily found through the “EV-Charging Easy “ Mobile App.

Regarding the number of EVs, their total in Hong Kong adds up to 39,114, this represents roughly 4.3% of the total number of vehicles in the city.

The Transport Department has type-approved 203 EV models from 16 economies. 45 of them are for public transport and commercial vehicles and 158 models cover private cars and motorcycles.

Recommended guidelines for EV charging

The Transport Department issued Guidelines on the Use of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure to ensure the safety of both the public and the EVs during the construction and operation of the charging infrastructure.

As a relatively small but dense city, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one next to your home, these can also be used at your workplace, or other. 

Make sure to check their availability and convenience before purchasing your electric vehicle.

A big effort has been made to upgrade standard chargers to medium ones, these can reduce charging times by 60%. 

Both of Hong Kong’s power companies will keep progressively upgrading the public infrastructure to medium chargers and install multi-standard quick chargers. 

Suppliers have joined this effort by building their own charging facilities for their EV models at public venues.

As the number of EVs steadily grows, private companies have started providing one-stop charging services, this includes installation of charging facilities and the provision of charging services, at the EV owner’s car parks. 

Most of the EV charging service providers also provide mobile apps to allow for real-time information on the availability of their EV chargers, increasing user convenience and practicality.

Lastly, the Environmental Protection Department has set up a hotline (3757 6222) to provide information and technical support to interested parties in setting up EV chargers at car parks. 

Both power companies also provide a ton of information on guidelines, advice, an inspection of charging installations, and connection of power supply to ensure the safety of its users.

A view from the sky of the city of Hong Kong

Things to keep in mind if you want to invest in/drive an EV in Hong Kong

With financial incentives on the rise, the number of electric vehicles and EV charging facilities should also grow. 

Economic incentives are also being introduced to boost the number of public chargers and the neighboring supporting facilities.

The incentives coming to market offer higher frt concessions and should, in the long run, push the private sector to invest in this technology.

As to the Hong Kong government, offering financial incentives to the public isn't stopping them from investing in government vehicles. 

This should put an end to combustion engines, increase charging efficiency and benefit private enterprises that can benefit from this Roadmap.

The environment bureau and government launched a plan for electric vehicles that should boost the market and reduce air pollution, offering an affordable vehicle to the population. Parking spaces

The use of private cars for EV owners or drivers

In theory, electric private vehicles don't release any particles into the atmosphere, they also don't burn fossil fuels and therefore greatly improve the overall air quality by decreasing air pollution and tailpipe emissions.

One could however argue that the main problem isn't about using combustion engine vehicles but rather about using private vehicles in general. 

As more private drivers join the streets, problems relative to pollution arise through manufacturing such a large amount of vehicles.

Sure, EV drivers and EV owners contribute to the hong kong government's goal of having zero vehicular emissions but they don't help the pollution problem.

The overall benefit of electric private vehicles

This set of measures, guidelines and overall plan for the future has made Hong Kong “The most progressive in Asia” on matters of electric vehicle goals according to Wong Kam-sing, the city’s environment minister.

Hong Kong is a small city that has achieved great economic success, its densely populated areas offer unique problems but also unique opportunities. 

Public transportation is already an important part of the relative consistency of the city, a good portion of the population uses it daily to answer the needs of their work and life.

In theory, the implementation of Electric vehicles is a relatively good idea in such a dense place as charging stations can be used to their fullest. 

It will, however, take time to make a real difference using EVs as the main vehicle, making the switch away from fuel-burning vehicles will require everybody to agree, but also most importantly, it needs a platform to help encourage people to switch, this platform is, of course, Hong Kong’s new Roadmap.

Only time will tell if the people of Hong Kong choose to follow this route and if they will jump over the multiple hurdles they face.

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