Beijing has recently released the “EV Promotion Action Plan for Beijing 2014-2017”, which plans to install 10, 000 quick chargers in public parking areas. In addition, Beijing is aiming for sales of 200,000 new energy and clean-energy vehicles, with 170,000 of them being privately owned. Furthermore, to encourage the consumption of EV, the government will offer a subsidy of up to 120,000 RMB.
Colin Herron, IET Member, mentioned, “The Chinese government’s efforts of promoting new energy vehicles, especially electric vehicles, are highly impressive. However, environmental protection may not alone be an effective driving force for people to purchase electric vehicles. Besides the policy orientation and infrastructure construction, we should also try to change consumers’ stereotypes towards electric vehicles, which is as important in Europe as it is in China.”
The price of EVs is a critical element. In Europe, certain research had indicated that people would not purchase electric vehicles due to high prices. However, when asked what the exact price was, most had admitted that they did not know. The problem lies in the fact that while the public has an assumed price for an EV, they did not consider that similar to ICE vehicles, EVs are different with a wide range of types and prices. A good example is the Tesla, which is an EV “super car” and carries a high price, whereas the Nissan Leaf is a family car with a family car price.
Meanwhile, consumers also place emphasis on the EV’s usage and maintenance expense. Mr. Colin suggested that the best way to promote and increase consumer’s confidence is to allow the public to view the electric vehicles on the road. For example, the taxi use could be an entry point. Due to the high demands by taxi drivers of their vehicles, a taxi company use electric vehicles, then EV would be deemed to be trustworthy. Also, in Europe, publicity campaigns like “charge your car for the price of a cappuccino”, which indicates the financial worthwhile of EV are conducted to improve the public’s understanding of EVs. Mr. Colin commented, “Of course, electric vehicles will take a long time to be accepted. It took the Toyota Prius about 8 years to become a best seller, and it is a hybrid. So, although all circles of the society are optimistic about the future of electric vehicles, we should study different countries and cities to leverage diverse strategies to enhance the mass use of EV.”
Colin Herron is an IET Member, and the MD of Zero Carbon Futures in Britain. This October, he will attend IET International Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Conference 2014 in Chongqing, China as a keynote speaker to share about the technology and application of electric vehicles from Europe. This international conference, which is hosted by The Institute of Engineering & Technology (The IET), one of the world’s largest professional bodies for professional engineers, is aiming at bringing in speakers from government, international academia and industry to discuss the recent advances in hybrid and electric vehicle technologies, and explore possible solutions for large scale adoption of EV.