China would offer preferential electricity charges for the electric-car sector in the latest move to boost the use of electric cars, the country's top economic planner announced Wednesday.
Operators of public charging facilities will be exempted from part of the electricity charges before 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Local governments should offer favorable policies such as subsidies and free sites for charging facility operators before 2020 in a bid to bring down the cost of electric cars, the NDRC said.
Despite the rollout of multiple preferential policies for new-energy cars by the government, experts and industry insiders are still sceptical about the prospects of the sector.
An industry guideline released on July 21 noted that local protectionism should be abolished to ensure a level playground for new-energy carmakers.
The central government announced on July 9 that consumers who buy new-energy vehicles will be exempted from the 10 percent purchasing tax starting from September 1, 2014 to the end of 2017.
But Su Hui, a senior expert at the China Automobile Dealers Association, noted that the sector is unlikely to see any major breakthrough when fundamental problems such as charging facilities and battery technologies are still unresolved.
China sold 20,477 units of new-energy vehicles in the first half of this year, up 220 percent year-on-year, data from China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed on July 9. But the number is still quite small compared with the overall passenger car sales of over 9 million units during the same period.
Zhang Hui, a marketing official at Beijing-based Yika Car Rental Service, a firm that offers electric-car rental services, told the Global Times Wednesday that companies like Yika have been reluctant to build public charging facilities as the investment is huge and returns are not guaranteed.
A charging pile which enables electric cars to be fully charged in about one hour costs over 100,000 yuan ($16,200), according to Zhang.
Su noted that consumers still hold a wait-and-see attitude toward new-energy vehicles. "The government should first boost the use of new-energy cars in the public sector such as buses and taxis, to educate consumers about the new-energy cars," he said.
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