Electrify vehicles for a cleaner Hong Kong

There has been a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the streets of Hong Kong. The number of licensed electric private cars in Hong Kong has grown by more than six times since 2018.[1][2]Bus companies have started trialing single- and double-decker electric buses;[3]and the government is also inviting suppliers to provide electric public light buses.

The first electric double-deck bus in HK commenced service in June 2022 (Image source: The Standard)

Compared to fossil fuel vehicles, EVs have no tailpipe emissions, which means they produce no greenhouse gases or air pollutants.[4]EVs also operate quietly, creating less noise pollution. Besides, they are more cost-effective to run.[5]

Given their numerous benefits, the government has been trying to popularize EVs by offering first registration tax (FRT) concessions since 2018, up to HK$97,500 for electric private cars and fully waived for electric commercial vehicles, motorcycles and motor tricycles since the last amendment.[6]

Despite the surge in the number of private EVs, electric franchised bus and government vehicle numbers remain low. As of September 2023, there were only 48 licensed electric franchised buses and 134 licensed electric government vehicles, accounting for 0.8% and 1.9% of their respective categories. Electric public light buses and taxis are also few in number.[7]

An electric taxi in Hong Kong (Image Source: Sky Post)

Public transport, however, makes up around 90% of daily passenger journeys in Hong Kong. Therefore, it is crucial for the government to provide additional subsidies to bus and minibus companies to convert their fleets to electric vehicles. The government should also walk the talk and take the lead to transition its fleet of vehicles to electric power.

The provision of public chargers is another area of inadequacy. Although there are 7,085 public EV chargers in Hong Kong,[8]this only amounts to approximately one charger for every 10 EVs.

A CLP fast charging point for EVs (Image source: Wen Wei Po)

The distribution of charging spaces is uneven as well. For example, in Kwun Tong district, there are 1,070 charging spaces, while Yuen Long, which has a similar population, only has 313 chargers.[9]This disparity in charging infrastructure has resulted in a slow adoption of electric taxis.[10]How can Hong Kong learn to do better?

Over in the mainland China, the Chinese government provides significantly better incentives for going electric. New EVs purchased by December 2025 are completely exempt from the vehicle purchase tax.[11]This has led to China having one of the highest share of EVs in the world.[12]

Norway is another pioneer in the adoption of EVs. In 2022, 79.3% of the vehicles sold in Norway were electric, ranking the top in the world.[13]The Norwegian government has set an ambitious goal to phase out the sales of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025,[14]ahead of other countries and Hong Kong’s 2035 target.[15]In addition, they have introduced an emission-based car tax system under the polluter pays principle.

Norway is currently leading in the EV transition (Image source: Statista)

Although EVs have no tailpipe emission, they are not necessarily the most environmental friendly option. The ultimate goal is to get citizens to switch to public transport like trains in their daily commute to reduce emission and traffic congestion. The government can also encourage walk or cycle more for short-distance commutes by improving walkability and cycling network.

Nevertheless, EVs can bring better health and well-being to citizens. Hong Kong should take note of the policies implemented in China and Norway to accelerate the transition. By collectively embracing sustainable transportation practices and supporting the adoption of EVs, we can contribute to creating a cleaner and healthier environment for both current and future generations.

Interested Topic:

Latest Blog

Related Article

Back To Top