扼殺電動車 何其愚蠢Paul Zimmerman 司馬文
2017/4/11 — 18:43
Decision to kill electric cars is stupid.
Stupid. I have tried to think of another term for the decision to end the first registration tax waiver for electric private cars (EVs), but I can’t.
The waiver – now capped at $97,500 – was introduced in 1994 to promote the switch to clean engines, but few were built or bought.
In 2009, the Financial Secretary announced that he would get serious about the use of EVs by setting up a steering committee to work on new measures, extending the tax waiver and promoting battery charging facilities.
It took five years for this to make an impact. Between 1999 and 2014, fewer than 100 EVs were registered each year. Then in 2014/15, 1000 new EVs were registered, and some 5,000 more have been registered since.
These were mostly luxury cars. On the lower end there is little growth, as a fully taxed regular or hybrid car like the Compact Prius is half the cost of a similar size tax-free electric vehicle. Not so at the top end, where a tax-free Tesla was about half the cost of a similar style and size limo.
Hardest hit by Tesla’s success were Benz, BMW and Audi. It was a double whammy as the overall car market appeared to hit the skids 2016. Over 50,000 private cars were newly registered in 2015 – the highest sales in private vehicles ever recorded in Hong Kong – but this slowed to around 40,000 cars in 2016. As a result, the share of sales for EVs rose to 10%, and probably higher in the luxury sector.
Panic erupted and lobbying by the traditional brands went into overdrive. Questions like, “Why is the public sponsoring toys for rich people” were raised in LegCo. The German spin masters blamed congestion and increase of our vehicle fleet on EVs, ignoring the fact that just 1.2% of our car fleet is electric. Instead of telling the three losers to speed up development of their own EVs, the Government gave in. Instead of raising taxes on all cars, government took away the incentive for people to watch their battery status and mess around with cables.
As a district councilor I witnessed heated debates over how electricity in private car parks should be improved and who pays. Now the financial incentive to negotiate with owner committees and suppliers over the installation of chargers has been killed.
Two factors cause roadside air pollution: Congestion and engine technology. To reduce congestion we need to motivate people with improved public transport and walkability, and by making the use and ownership of cars more expensive with congestion charging (road pricing). To motivate people to change the fuel or power they use, we need to subsidize new technology with tax waivers until the installed base has reached tipping point – or at least 30 per cent of the total vehicle fleet. With electrics now more expensive than regular vehicles, Government made it much more difficult to get there.
（Paul Zimmerman is an elected District Councillor for Pokfulam, CEO of Designing Hong Kong, Chairman of The Professional Commons.）