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Green car buyers charged up over a lack of power

2014-11-08 11:27 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

A government plan to promote the use of electric vehicles is in danger of backfiring as new owners complain of the plug being pulled on their green ambitions.

The problem concerns the installation of charging posts in residential communities. Though essential equipment for battery-powered car owners, to many property managers they are at best an eyesore and at worst a safety hazard.

A Shanghai man surnamed Kang said he bought a hybrid car in June after being wooed by the government's offer of a cash subsidy and free license plate.

The trouble, however, began when he tried to have a charging post installed at his home.

"I made arrangements with the car dealership and the power company to have the post installed beside my underground parking space," Kang said.

"But when I submitted my application to the property management company, they told me I couldn't do it."

Kang said he explained to the company that both the government was openly encouraging people to buy "green" cars, and that official guidelines suggested management companies should support the installation of charging posts. But his appeal fell on deaf ears.

According to a member of the Kang's property management team, surnamed Chen, permission for such an installation couldn't given without approval from the owners' committee.

As Kang's community doesn't yet have such a body, the installation was blocked, Chen said.

A second stumbling block regarded the cabling for the posts and the potential drain on electricity resources, Chen said.

"The only way to get the cables for the posts to the power room is over the roof of the parking area. If lots of people buy electric cars, the roof would soon become loaded with cables," he said. "Also, the charging posts pose a safety risk."

Kang told Shanghai Daily that despite complaining to the city government, the management company refused to budge.

As a result, he now runs his hybrid mostly on gasoline.

"I'd rather run it on electricity, but the only way I can charge it is by running a cable from my apartment window, which is far from ideal," he said.

Lack of awareness

Kang is not the only person in Shanghai to have had problems having a charging post installed. After writing about his experiences online he has since formed a support group, which now has 180 members.

Shanghai Daily put Kang's case to Liu Jianhua, head of the city's new-energy vehicles promotion office, under the economic and information commission.

Liu said the difficulties seem to have been born out of a lack of awareness.

"Property management companies and members of the public lack knowledge of new-energy vehicles and that makes them wary of them," he said.

"Some people think the cars are a fire risk, or that they will leak electricity or even radiation," he said.

In fact, the government has "very strict regulations and standards for producers and installers of charging posts to ensure they are safe," Liu said.

"So, we need to do more to educate people," he said.

In the meantime, the new-energy vehicles office is working with other departments on more detailed regulations on the subject, Liu said.

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