The government in Beijing has done more than almost anywhere else in the world to encourage people to buy electric cars and still almost nobody is buying them.
A report from the South China Morning Post popped up on China Car Times explaining that in the entire megacity of Beijing, just 1,701 people applied to register an electric car. That's despite strong cost incentives and possibly the biggest incentive for EV ownership offered by any government in the world.
The huge incentive offered by Beijing is a virtual exemption from the city's extremely punitive restrictions on who can register a car. Basically, you don't just buy a car and get to register it at the DMV. People buying conventional cars (the current tally is 1,841,213 applicants, South China Morning Post reports) get stuck into a lottery with a 0.8% chance of winning a license plate for their car.
Beijing offers 20,000 license plates to potential buyers and since there are only 1,701 EV applicants, they're all guaranteed to get their license plates. EV buyers are effectively exempt from Beijing's license plate lottery, possibly the toughest test against car ownership in the world.
So why aren't Beijing residents flocking to EVs? The South China Morning Post reports that it's the infrastructure. First they note compainst from current EV users in the city.
Drivers of the city's more than 1,000 electric taxis have complained about the limited distance the cars can travel, and the long waiting lines and charging times at the city's 500 charging stations.
And then they go on to explain the problems for prospective buyers.
The key problem for electric vehicles in China is the lack of supporting infrastructure such as charging stations, said Janet Lewis, a Hong Kong-based industry analyst with Macquarie Capital Securities. "The big fear is to get stuck in Beijing traffic and not have enough charge," she said.
Other areas looking to get more EVs on the road should learn from Beijing's mistake — you can do all you want to encourage people to buy EVs, but if you don't support the infrastructure you can forget about sales.
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