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Sales of new-energy vehicles expected to surge this year

2015-02-03 10:25 China Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing
A car sits at the first solar energy charging station in Beijing. The city has built 1,500 public charging facilities and plans to have 10,000 by the end of 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A car sits at the first solar energy charging station in Beijing. The city has built 1,500 public charging facilities and plans to have 10,000 by the end of 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Government and businesses improve charging network for green alternative

New-energy vehicles, especially purely electric models, will see increased development in 2015 now that the government and businesses are exploring new roads to improve the charging network.

Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that China sold 74,800 new-energy vehicles in 2014, 3.2 times more than sold the previous year. New-energy vehicles include purely electric, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell models.

Experts believe that sales in 2015 will surge even higher as it becomes easier to charge newenergy vehicles.

Local authorities in Beijing have built 1,500 public charging poles, with 60 percent located within the fifth-ring road. They said the number of charging poles would rise to 10,000 by the end of 2017.

The capital's reform and development commission said it is inviting private capital to join the effort by offering subsidies to those who build charging facilities for public use.

The government in the neighboring city of Tianjin is also working hard to promote the development of new-energy vehicles.

"We have set up a 'green' channel at State Grid offices for those who would like to install their own charging poles," said Qi Peng, an official at the city's Science and Technology Commission, in an interview with China Daily at the just concluded Global New Energy Vehicle Conference.

He said the government is offering free licenses to newenergy vehicles and considering promulgating regulations on building charging facilities in newly built communities.

Qi said local authorities are also exploring a business mode that would ensure profitability of the charging facilities so private companies will play a bigger role in infrastructure building.

As the charging network expands, Qi believes the number of new energy vehicles in Tianjin will rise to 120,000 in 2015. It had 2,100 such vehicles at the end of 2014.

Automakers are showing more enthusiasm for newenergy vehicles.

Premium carmaker Audi announced that it will produce plug-in hybrid versions of its popular A6L at FAW-Volkswagen plants this year. And its archrival BMW unveiled a plug-in hybrid, 530Le, last month in Shanghai.

In addition to offering more products, many of them are making it easier for newenergy vehicles to recharge.

US electric car maker Tesla has built more than 200 charging poles for its customers in China, said the company's vice president Jin Jun, adding that the number is growing rapidly.

"The biggest concern for electric car owners is how far their cars will go. They will feel nervous if they cannot find a place to charge the cars."

BJEV, the new-energy vehicle arm of automaker BAIC, announced on Jan 25 that it will install 10,000 charging poles in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen by the end of 2017. It had already built more than 1,800 poles before that announcement.

Many companies are also innovating the ways to recharge. Shandong-based Tgood has invented a system that will control the time to start charging based on the vehicle's proposed departure time.

"If you want to leave two hours later, the system will start charging the car immediately. If you want to leave at around 7 am, it will charge your car perhaps at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning," said the company's president Yu Dexiang.

Yu said the scheme would ease the burden on the power provider and save money for car owners as the cost for electricity use is lower after midnight.

He added the charging system could also improve car safety by monitoring vehicle conditions, including tire pressure.

"In the traditional way you take your car to a 4S dealer when something goes wrong. Now we can tell you what will go wrong before you open the door of your car."

Telecom equipment maker ZTE is also making inroads into the industry by offering a wireless charging service that can be controlled by a mobile phone app.

ZTE Vice President Sun Zhen'ge said the company has signed contracts with more than 10 cities in China to charge their public vehicles, such as buses and taxis, and would soon also provide the service for private users.

Sun said ZTE would spend at least 1 billion yuan (160 million) on the wireless charging program from 2015.

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