Low-cost rentals and subsidized purchases to help boost market
As electric vehicles become more widely used in public transportation, some local governments are moving a step further and promoting their private use.
Among the initiatives is a rental outlet for all-electric cars that recently opened in a science park near Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Part of the "EV Beijing Partnership" program by the Beijing Science and Technology Commission, the station offers 16 electric cars made by BAIC Motor at a lease price of 49 yuan for two hours or 99 yuan per day or 1,999 yuan per month.
The station is also equipped with charging facilities.
According to the commission, the response has been "impressive".
Fifteen of the cars have been rented not for hours or days but for months and about 2,000 applicants are now waiting for the service.
The commission had to specially arrange one car for short-term rental so that more people can try the service. And it plans to build more such rental outlets in the city with no fewer than 500 electric cars put into service within the year, it added.
Analysts said the cost is usually high to buy an all-electric vehicle, but rental services "greatly lower the threshold".
In Shanghai, the first 50 electric Roewe cars made by SAIC Motor were available for rent from the end of June from 1hai, the city's largest auto leasing company. Most of the cars rent for 150 yuan a day.
According to domestic media reports, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Hefei in Anhui province also have similar rental services.
The ultimate goal of the EV Beijing Partnership is not to just rent cars, but to create opportunities for customers to experience the vehicles and help them make the decision to buy one, the commission said.
Another approach by the commission is to look for 500 candidates as the first private buyers of all-electric cars in Beijing.
Those selected will be eligible for a total subsidy of 140,000 yuan, including 60,000 yuan from the central government, 60,000 yuan from the Beijing municipal government and 20,000 yuan from manufacturer BAIC Motor.
These buyers will need to pay 109,800 yuan ($17,709) for an E150 electric car from BAIC and will be exempt from the city's license plate lottery.
According to the commission, the first 10 vehicles will be delivered to buyers very soon. Unlike Shanghai and Shenzhen, Beijing has not yet released a final policy on private ownership of electric vehicles.
No decision has been reached on whether current preferential policies will be in effect for future buyers, the commission said.
The commission has been organizing frequent free test drives for local residents.
After trying the vehicles, many lauded the performance of electric cars and the low cost of using electricity.
But they still voiced concerns about the inconvenience finding charging facilities and the long wait for a full charge.
"The ideal time for a single charge I can accept is half an hour," said Ouyang Liang, an employee at an IT company. But usually it takes about seven hours to fully charge an electric car.
He Rong, who works for a publishing house, said "an electric car is too expensive in addition to the inconvenience of charging and the short distances it can cover on a single charge".
Her budget for a car is about 100,000 yuan and she said she won't consider buying an electric car at present.
According to the commission, as it builds more rental stations in Beijing, more charging facilities will also be set up across the city.