Believe it or not, Tesla and its rival electric car brands may be responsible for worsening Hong Kong pollution.
They could cause up to 20 percent more carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline-fueled motors, Bloomberg reports, citing Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Neil Beveridge.
Beveridge said Hong Kong relies on coal for more than half of its power generation and should focus on shifting its power mix toward natural gas and renewables before encouraging the use of electric vehicles with incentives such as tax breaks.
“Electric vehicles only make sense in countries where the carbon intensity of electricity generation is low,” Beveridge wrote in a research report.
“In Hong Kong, and more broadly China, electric vehicles are increasing rather than reducing pollution, with taxpayers effectively being asked to subsidize this.”
Hong Kong has more than 4,000 registered electric vehicles, including Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S, which Bernstein used in its analysis, and Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf.
Over a 150,000-kilometer lifetime, a Model S may result in the release of 4.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide more than a BMW AG 320i after accounting for the carbon intensity of Hong Kong’s power generation and the production of the car battery, as well as crude oil extraction, transportation and refining.
Tesla’s own analysis estimates the Model S in Hong Kong produces about half the carbon dioxide per kilometer than an equivalent gas-powered car, the company said in an e-mail.
“Moreover, as the percentage of grid power from solar and wind continues to increase, the CO2 from electricity drops with each passing year and the gap widens even further.”
Exemptions from registration taxes save Model S owners about HK$382,500 (US$49,300).
By comparison, the levy on a 320i would carry an additional cost of HK$206,300, or about 38 percent of the sticker price, Bernstein’s analysis shows.
The Hong Kong government has passed up as much as HK$1.5 billion in revenue because of these incentives.
Hong Kong generated about 53 percent of its power from coal as of 2012 compared with about 22 percent each for nuclear and natural gas, according to its Environmental Protection Department.
In mainland China, coal accounts for more than 60 percent of primary energy.
Hong Kong is aiming to increase the proportion of natural gas in its energy mix to about 50 percent by 2020, according to the EPD.
“The reduced reliance on coal in the fuel mix will make the greenhouse gas benefit of EVs greater,” the department said in an e-mail.
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