Date
17 October 2017
The Ombudsman has launched a probe following complaints that the government has fallen short on arrangements related to electric vehicles. The picture here shows a charging station for EVs. Photo: HKEJ
The Ombudsman has launched a probe following complaints that the government has fallen short on arrangements related to electric vehicles. The picture here shows a charging station for EVs. Photo: HKEJ

Ombudsman looking into electric-vehicle support infrastructure

The Office of the Ombudsman said on Thursday that it is scrutinizing initiatives related to electric vehicles (EVs) to determine if the government had fallen short on planning and arrangements for ancillary facilities.

The move came as EV owners in the city have been complaining that it is often difficult for them to find a charging station or have to wait in a long queue even if they find it.

Official data also suggest that charging stations addition has lagged far behind the growth in the EV numbers, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

According to the government watchdog, data from the Transport Department shows that the number of registered electric private vehicles surged from 60 in January 2011 to 10,603 in July 2017.

However, statistics provided by the Environment Protection Department show the number of public charging stations has only doubled from 872 in 2011 to 1,774 at the moment.

As a result, the ratio of charging stations to EVs in the city stands at only 1:6, lower than the 1:4 ratio required under guidelines in other countries.

Ombudsman Connie Lau Yin-hing said the growth gap between charging stations and EVs has not only caused inconvenience to EV owners but also impeded the wider use of EVs in Hong Kong, which is contrary to the intent of government policy.

The Ombudsman also pointed out the 2009-10 Policy Address clearly stated that the government aims to make Hong Kong one of the cities in Asia where EVs are most widely used, and that the 2009-10 Budget also indicated that the government would examine the feasibility of providing recharging facilities in government multi-storey car parks and explore ways of encouraging the business sector to set up such facilities.

The Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, which was revised in May 2011, set a goal that 30 percent of private cars would be EVs or hybrids by 2020, and that 30 percent of the private car parking spaces in new buildings would have recharging facilities.

However, EVs currently only account for less than two percent of total registered private vehicles in the city, HKEJ noted.

Based the aforementioned facts, the Ombudsman said its investigation will examine whether there are any improprieties in the government’s planning and arrangements for EVs.

The public is welcome to offer opinions and provide feedback on the matter by Oct. 30.

The Environment Bureau, meanwhile, has promised to fully cooperate with the Ombudsman’s investigation.

Chow Ying-wai, founder of Electrify Hong Kong, suggested that authorities should consider installing more chargers.

Even medium chargers can be acceptable, as opposed to quick chargers, which occupy more space and cost a lot more and may discourage commercial buildings and shopping malls from installing, he told HKEJ.

A medium charging station costs between HK$20,000 and HK$30,000, compared to HK$600,000 to HK$700,000 for a quick-charging station, Chow said.

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TL/JC/RC

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