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扼殺電動車 何其愚蠢

2017/4/11 — 18:43

2014年,環境保護署在上環安排電動車中速充電器的運作示範。機電工程署人員在場講解如何操作電動車中速充電器。

2014年,環境保護署在上環安排電動車中速充電器的運作示範。機電工程署人員在場講解如何操作電動車中速充電器。

除「蠢」以外,我實在想不到其他詞彙,以形容政府終止豁免電動車首次登記稅的決定。

這項豁免早於1994年推出,現在政府修訂上限為九萬七千五百元。當年,政府以這項豁免鼓勵使用電動車,但成效不彰。乃至2009年,當時的財政司司長成立「推動使用電動車輛督導委員會」,以研究其他推廣措施,同時延續這項稅項豁免,並增設充電設施。

以上措施,香港政府仍花了足足五年才初見成效。由1999年至2014年,每年登記的電動車少於100輛。但單單於2014-15年,電動車新登記卻有約一千輛,而2015-16年的新登記數字更高達5000輛。

廣告

然而,上述的電動車多數是價格高昂。在較低價車輛的市場,電動車的增長非常有限。因為一輛繳付全稅的普通車輛或混合動力車輛的價格,大約僅為一輛免稅電動車的一半。但貴價車的情況則完全相反:一輛免稅的Tesla電動車,仍比相同檔次的汽油轎車便宜得多。

面對電動車稅項減免,首當其衝的固然是Benz、BMW及Audi等傳統車廠,而2016年的車輛銷售數字更令它們不容樂觀。2015年整體汽車新登記數字超過五萬輛,創下歷史新高。但相關數字卻於翌年急劇下跌至約四萬輛。然而,在整個汽車銷售市場不景氣的情況下,電動車佔整體車輛的銷售比例卻上升至10個百分比,而在貴價車的市場則更高。

廣告

電動車使用的增加,引來傳統品牌恐慌。他們不斷遊說各界反對稅項豁免,更在立法會提出問題,質問政府為何要贊助有錢人購買玩具。這些說客將交通擠塞的問題歸咎於電動車的增加,卻忘記現時電動車只佔整體車輛約1.2個百分比。但我們的政府不單未有呼籲這些車廠加快電動車的開發,也沒有增加所有車輛的稅項以加強推廣電動車。反之,他們作出讓步,終止電動車的稅項豁免,以致市民購買電動車意欲大減。

身為一名區議員,我見證區內車主熱烈地討論如何改善停車場的電動車電力供應問題。但現在隨着政府的倒行逆施,我相信車位業主安裝充電設施的需要將會大減。

導致路面空氣污染的原因有二:交通擠塞及汽車引擎技術。誠然,我們要改善公共交通工具和行人路的規劃,以及引入道路收費系統,從而應付交通擠塞的問題。但與此同時,我們也應繼續以稅務豁免鼓勵市民使用電動車科技,直至電動車在社會上變得普及(最少佔整體三成),從而鼓勵以汽車代步的市民使用更潔淨的能源。然而,現時電動車的價格仍遠高於普通車輛,政府卻終止電動車的稅項豁免,看來電動車的普及仍遙遙無期。

一字記之曰,蠢。

 

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.

Stupid.

(Paul Zimmerman is an elected District Councillor for Pokfulam, CEO of Designing Hong Kong, Chairman of The Professional Commons.)

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