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China Puts Billions Into Electric Cars & EV Charging Stations

China has no time to waste in mitigating air and water pollution, nor doing its part to cut global warming emissions. To help address these issues, China came up with a significant plan to adopt 5 million electric cars. The issue now is how to supply enough charging stations to fuel the cars.

China’s current electric vehicle (EV) owners are reportedly running into problems finding charging for their electric cars thus.

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Bloomberg reports that China’s government last month said it would increase incentives to city governments to make more progress towards construction of EV charging facilities. It is of course necessary to match incentives for buying EVs with incentives for charging stations, as owners generally need to charge their plug-ins every day or every other day. “The central government is considering spending as much as 100 billion yuan to build charging facilities and spur demand for new-energy vehicles, two people familiar with the matter said in August.” (100 billion = a little more than $16 billion at the moment.)

A US state that wants only EVs, California, just made strides with this very issue — it allows renters to install EV chargers wherever they rent. Perhaps China needs to look at California’s policy changes for renters and businesses to increase the chances of success in their country. Of course, building owners could also be more progressive.

According to Bloomberg, “Eddy Wu, a Shanghai resident, apartment complex and office won’t let him charge the BYD Co. vehicle in their parking lots, saying it poses a fire risk. Using the nearest public charging station means driving 5 kilometers (3 miles) and paying cash. With gas prices expected to tumble with the almost 40 percent plunge in crude-oil since June, there will even less incentive to charge his Qin sedan.” (Note that the Qin is a plug-in hybrid, so it can charge and run on electricity or fill up on gas and drive like a conventional car.)

The problem is troubling and in ongoing resolution worldwide – however, China’s problem is especially precarious. For one, many people live in multi-family buildings and don’t have their own personal chargers. There are also the pollution problems noted above and increasing oil dependency, which is costly. “There’s dependency on oil, with almost 25 percent of the world’s production going to China. I believe it’s the only chance for the Chinese car manufacturers to catch quickly up with international car manufacturers.”

Even in countries that are seeing steady use and growth of EVs, “range anxiety anxiety” is a significant concern of potential owners (EV owners for the most part realize it’s not an issue).

Yan Xuefei, also a Shanghai resident, who charges his Qin at night at a factory near his apartment (when it is not raining… as per the factory’s policy) told Bloomberg: “The government has given generous subsidies for us to buy the cars and publicized the merits of new-energy vehicles,” Yan said. “But so many car owners can’t easily charge their cars as they don’t have designated parking spots.”

So, due to relevant concerns, even with good government subsidies that reduce the costs of cars quite a bit, demand is slow in China. By September, the country was far behind its 2015 target for introducing alternative-energy cars. China’s goals are high – but the obstacles are still presenting problems. China offers an exemption from a 10% purchase tax and free license plates issued in various cities, including Shanghai, to EV buyers. This is a pretty big deal, as gasoline-powered auto plates cost about $12,000 in the country.


China recently agreed to halve its CO2 emissions peak by 2030, as part of a deal with the US, in which the US will also make bigger cuts. EVs are an important part of that, combined with solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power.

“When plug-in hybrid owners decide whether to use electricity or gasoline, the determining factor is charging facilities,” Dong Yang, secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, notes. “With the increase of charging facilities, the effects of reduced gas emissions from plug-in hybrid vehicles will become more apparent.”

Bloomberg adds: “In Shanghai, the city’s government plans to build 6,000 charging points by 2015 while it has a target of 13,000 alternative-energy vehicles on its roads during the same time frame. It’s also working with companies including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG to build charging facilities.”

Tesla continually addresses the need of charging stations worldwide, and that certainly includes China. The US electric car rock star began the efforts after the start of its Model S sales in China in April. Tesla has deals to build 400 charging points in 120 cities. It will work with China Unicom, the nation’s second-largest mobile phone company, and real-estate developers Soho China Ltd. and China Yantai Holdings Co.

Charging stations are a vital key to success in our transformation to zero emissions. China is not alone with its charging station problems. But I think it won’t be long before this hurdle is also crossed. On that note, if you are an organization or owner set to invest in a charging station, check out Six Questions to Ask Before Buying Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (a nice infographic is included).

Related Stories:

Workplace Charging Stations Encourage Plug-In Car Use

Global Public EV Charging Stations Surge Past 48,00å0

Image by OregonDOT via flickr

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