China doesn't need large-size electric cars like those made by Tesla Motors, a former government minister said today. Instead, compact, pedestrian-friendly cities need small electric bicycles.
"I'm not a fan of Tesla. I'm not a supporter of a government subsidy for large-size electric cars like Tesla," Qiu Baoxing, former-vice minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said at a forum on smart commuting and future cities.
He said although Tesla is clean-energy-fueled, its large size still doesn't align well with the principles of "future cities": compact and public transportation-oriented. An average passenger car takes up 10 square meters, while a bicycle occupies 1.4 sq m and a pedestrian occupies 0.3 sq m.
"This is why in cities like Beijing, the number of people passing through a 10-lane road per hour is less than the number of people passing through a three-meter bicycle lane. The increasing ownership of automobiles actually didn't improve the convenience of commuting," Qiu said.
He said the small electric bicycle, a commuting tool favored by ordinary commuters but seldom encouraged by local governments, fits the idea of future cities and should be promoted.
"China subsidizes 120,000 yuan ($18,600) for an average electric car, the highest in the world, but the cars still failed to become very popular. Electric bicycles never get public endorsement by any ministries but grow at a 35 percent annual pace. Policymakers should reflect on that," he said.