Beijing Unveils Aggressive Electric-Car Plan

Beijing has set the aggressive goal of having 200,000 electrics cars on its streets by 2017 as one important way to curb the world’s worst air pollution, according to the city’s Science and Tech czar Yao Yaoshuang.

The city is mulling a multi-pronged effort at inducing consumers to buy 150,000 of the 200,000 electric cars it hopes to see in service in the coming four years. They include placing public charging stations every five kilometers (3.1 miles) in downtown Beijing by 2017, exempting electric cars from the extremely restrictive lottery system in place for assigning license plates for residents and requiring all new residential projects to provide charging posts on 10-15% of all their parking spaces.

”I will try my best to bring more electric cars to the road, a rather difficult task in view of the city’s traffic jams,” Yan said in a recent TV interview.

The electric-car crusade is just one part of the city’s 200-300 billion yuan ($32-$48 bil.) initiative to curb air pollution. Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and suburbs comprise 10 cities with the worst air pollution among the 74 cities monitored by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

“According to our plan, electric cars will be given a special quota for auto licenses, separate from gasoline vehicles whose licenses are subject to an annual quota distributed according to lot drawing,” said Yan.

Since electric cars would not directly contribute to the city’s smog problem, they can be exempt from restrictions aimed at easing air pollution. Currently each three-day period of intense smog triggers a city procedure for restricting cars from entering the central city.

If the plan is successfully implemented, Beijing would become the world’s leading city for electric car deployment. Currently about 150,000 plug-in electric cars are in use in the entire US and about a third of that number are in China. About 80,000 electric cars are in operation in Japan and a similar number in Europe.