A Changan electric car, one of the domestic brands, on display at the Shanghai auto show. China will gradually cut subsidies for new-energy cars starting from 2017 (Photo/China Daily)
(ECNS) -- The latest move of the Beijing municipal government to impose fees for electric vehicle (EV) charging services has sparked heated debate about questions ranging from the legitimacy to the pricing.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform has released new rules for electricity usage and charging service fees, with the latter calculated based on electricity consumption.
For every one kilowatt hour of electricity, the upper-limit is set at 15 percent of the maximum retail price per liter of No. 92 gasoline in Beijing. EV charging companies are allowed to fix their own price standards within this range.
The new rules will take effect from June 1.
The commission responded that the move is aimed at maintaining the cost advantage of using EVs. Moreover, the introduction of service fees could encourage more companies to enter the charging service market while increased supply would be conducive to a more balanced market.
Experts also say the government pricing standard will play an important role in regulating the charging service market.
The previous scheme, under which power grids did not charge fees and car charging companies set their own pricing standards, dampened power company enthusiasm for participating in the program while the fees charged by those companies could be even higher than the government standard, they said, adding that a uniform standard set by the government would be good for the long-term development of the sector.
The charge also makes people doubt whether China will still encourage the use of electric vehicles.
Before the government released the standard, most of Beijing's charging poles were available to users free of charge, with only a small minority of them subject to service fees.
Calculations based on current gasoline prices indicate that EVs still have a cost advantage over conventionally-powered vehicles by a large margin, with the cost for use just 53 percent of that for vehicles powered by conventional fuels. For users who charge their cars at home, there are no service fees at all. Therefore, spending on charging will not increase by much.
Since the end of March, Beijing had built approximately 7,500 charging poles and five stations, with the ratio of EV numbers in circulation to the number of charging poles standing at about 1.6:1. The city remains a leader in terms of the construction of car charging facilities in China.
In addition, State Grid's Beijing branch has built 280 charging terminals as well as 5,242 charging poles and is planning to construct charging networks with a service radius of 5 kilometers within the Fifth Ring Road. Other companies are also jumping on the bandwagon. Sinopec and PetroChina, for example, are also piloting the setting up of charging facilities at their gas stations.
Experts said resolving problems that are restricting the development of new energy vehicles and making them affordable, convenient and pleasing would help usher in a real EV market.