All new cars in Hong Kong could be electric by as early as 2030 – five years ahead of the government’s target - given their accelerating penetration globally, according to a senior environment official.
The government is stepping up policy support to lift the take-up of emission-free vehicles, including subsidies for electric car purchases and private charging infrastructure, said Owin Fung Ho-yin, deputy director of the Environment Protection Department.
“When we set the target early this year, we had already noticed many countries have been pushing their ambitions higher,” he said. “It is highly likely we will meet the 2035 goal sooner, and personally, I believe 2032 is doable and even 2030 is not impossible.”
Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.
He was speaking at an electric vehicle (EV) forum on Tuesday organised by his department, the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association and Sinopec (Hong Kong).
In March the Environment Bureau unveiled a roadmap for the popularisation of EVs, under which the registration of petrol cars - including hybrids - will not be accepted by 2035.
There were nearly 25,000 electric passenger cars on Hong Kong’s roads in October, making up 3.8 per cent of the total fleet. That compared to just 180 in 2010.
EVs accounted for 30 per cent of newly registered cars in October, up from 21 per cent for the first ten months of 2021, 12 per cent last year and 6 per cent in 2019. Fung expects the ratio to rise to 50 per cent by 2025.
Until March 2024, EV buyers are entitled to as much as HK$97,500 (US$12,500) off their first registration tax.
Annual licence fees for EVs are much lower than for petrol cars.
Government policy support also includes HK$2 billion in subsidies for the installation of 110,000 EV charging facilities on private housing estates.
Transport contributed some 17 per cent of Hong Kong’s carbon dioxide emissions last year. That compared to the 66 per cent contributed by power generation, the biggest source.
To reach the city’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, the government has set aside funding to promote the electrification of vehicles, work with utility firms to phase out coal power generation by 2035, use hydrogen to replace natural gas in power plants and increase renewable energy generation.
For public transport, the government has allocated HK$300 million for trying out electric buses and taxis, and set up a HK$1.1 billion fund to subsidise trials for other types of EV such as lorries.
“In the next two to three years, we plan to come up with a clear roadmap for the electrification of public transport vehicles from 2025,” Fung said.
He expects all buses in the city to be powered by either battery or hydrogen in 10 to 15 years.
Trials for electric double-decker buses will take place early next year, followed by electric taxis and minibuses in 2023, he said.
“We have yet to see mainland-made EVs in the market, and we want that to happen soon,” he said, adding that they are currently imported from the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea.
Ouyang Xiaocheng, Asia-Pacific sales director at Shenzhen-based electric vehicle maker BYD which will deliver 10 single-decker buses to Hong Kong next month and 42 double-deckers in 2023, proposed that Hong Kong adopt a unified standard for EV charging equipment and cancel diesel tax exemption for public transport operators.
The firm introduced 45 electric taxis to the Hong Kong market in 2013 but withdrew them two years later because of insufficient charging facilities.
Fung said given Hong Kong imports all its cars and there are signs international standards are converging, the government is not inclined to impose any one standard on the market.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Why Hong Kong’s electric vehicle plan isn’t enough to hit carbon neutrality goals
- Hong Kong to set up task force to explore expanding green efforts beyond taxis, buses, lorries and ferries
- Climate Change: Sinopec urges faster government policymaking to kick-start green hydrogen transport in Hong Kong
- Carbon-neutral goal: CLP eyes hydrogen-powered plants to cut emission as Hong Kong prepares to update 2050 neutrality target