Hong Kong needs to inject greater urgency into efforts to develop electric-vehicle infrastructure to keep up with soaring sales and meet its 2050 carbon neutrality goal.
While the government has dangled some carrots to encourage the private-sector drive towards electrification, executives in the car sector foresee bottlenecks stalling progress.
“How to cope with the slowly growing infrastructure with the fast-growing sales [of electric cars] is one of the issues that we need the government to keep on top of discussing with the industry,” said Joe Lam, deputy general manager of retail services at Inchcape Hong Kong.
There are more than 30,000 electric vehicles in the city, about 3 per cent of all registered vehicles, according to figures from the Hong Kong E-Vehicles Business General Association in May. By 2025, electric vehicles are expected to account for half of the cars on the road, according to officials at the Environmental Protection Department.
The government had a crucial role to play in supporting the adoption of battery-powered cars in Hong Kong, said Lam, who was speaking as part of a panel discussion at the Post’s Climate Change Hong Kong Summit yesterday.
“The electric-vehicle adoption rate in the whole world is very highly driven by the government or depends on the policy of individual governments. [It is especially important] for Hong Kong, because right now, our sales or percentage of electric vehicles in the market is growing very fast,” he said.
The transport sector contributed about 17 per cent of Hong Kong’s carbon emissions in 2020, the second-largest contributor after power generation, according to government figures.
To reach the city’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050, the government has set aside funding to promote electrification of vehicles and work with utility firms to phase out coal power generation by 2035.
“Unfortunately, Hong Kong is quite unique when it comes to electric-vehicle adaptation in the public transport sector … because they are all privately owned,” Venessa Wong, regional director at Scania China & Hong Kong, said at the panel session. “Without a great incentive, it is a very expensive shift of technology to private corporations.”
The challenges include a lack of customer choices, no universal standard for charging facilities and a lack of charging infrastructure, according to Nelson Chow, partner of supply chain and operations at EY.
Standardisation would enable citizens to power their electric cars easily when travelling to the rest of the Greater Bay Area, according to Hunter Cao, general manager of the Hong Kong digital power business department at Huawei’s Hong Kong representative office.
The government should also involve electric-vehicle makers in the early stages of urban planning and the ecosystem set-up for the cars to create the most effective transport solutions for Hong Kong, Wong said.
“That’s the only way to really help achieve the goal together with the government by 2050 … to involve all the stakeholders early on,” she said.