When the government announced a policy objective in 2009 to make Hong Kong one of the cities in Asia where electric vehicles were widely used, hopes were high that it would result in fewer polluting vehicles and cleaner air. Almost 10 years have passed but the situation still leaves much to be desired. It seems that officials are no longer in the front seat to drive the much-needed policy change. Not only are we nowhere near our goal, we are not even clear on where we are going.
If the policy had been seriously implemented, there would be more than just 10,000-odd electric vehicles on our roads today. Although that number is a staggering 150 times more than that of seven years ago, it accounts for just under 2 per cent of the city’s private vehicles. This pales into insignificance when the number of petrol and diesel vehicles has expanded from 400,000 to 600,000 over the past decade.
The way forward became even more unclear following the withdrawal in last year’s budget of a first registration tax waiver for private electric vehicles. This was reflected in the drop in sales of a popular electric vehicle brand from a monthly average of 230 in 2016 to a total of just 32 vehicles between April and December last year. Whether Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po offers more initiatives in his second budget on Wednesday will be closely followed by the public.
Read more at SCMP