Elon Musk calls Hong Kong a “beacon city” for electric vehicles, setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.
Hong Kong has been a strong market for Tesla Model S sales as the company expands its presence in Asia. Tesla’s presence in the city is also being helped by the fact that Hong Kong now hosts the highest density of Superchargers in the world, according to The Guardian.
Hong Kong’s population density, efficient public transportation, lack of parking space, and high registration taxes make it a tough market to sell cars in. The registration taxes on new vehicles go up to 115% of the price portion above 45,000 pounds ($65,968). That high tax rate was enacted to reduce road traffic and street level emissions, which is considered to be the main contributor to the port city’s air pollution.
During the past two years, the city has seen a jump in electric vehicles sales thanks to an EV tax waiver passed by legislators that will last until March 2017. It’s very typical to walk the streets of Hong Kong and see an EV passing by – and it’s usually a red Tesla, The Guardian reports.
While visiting China in January 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called Hong Kong a “beacon city for electric vehicles” that could “serve as an example to the rest of the world on what to do.” Musk predicted Hong Kong would be a leader of the world in terms of EV adoption.
Overall, Tesla Motos sees Asia as its biggest area of expansion. The company will be substantially expanding its Supercharger network in that region.
At the beginning of 2010, fewer than 100 EVs on the streets of Hong Kong. By October 2015 the number of new EV registrations for the year surpassed 3,000. By January this year there were just under 4,500 EVs, according to the city’s Environmental Protection Department.
The government has approved 52 EV models for the roads of Hong Kong, 36 of which are private cars. The top selling EV model in Hong Kong is the Tesla Model S. More than 2,000 of these luxury electric sedans were sold in the city in 2015.
John Bower, a committee member of Charged Hong Kong, believes improved battery life, lower running costs, government policies to switch taxis to electric could all help boost EV adoption. For Bower, who owns a Tesla, the biggest stumbling block to faster uptake is the lack of charging infrastructure.
For some time, there were more than 1,000 free charging stations available for about 500 electric cars. Once Tesla entered the market in Hong Kong and began delivering its vehicles, the number of EVs to charging stations increased.
As of July 2015, Hong Kong had the highest density of Tesla superchargers in the world, but drivers in Hong Kong say that is still insufficient. Of the 1,300 stations available, only 200 are medium chargers and 157 are quick chargers.
EV owners in Hong Kong hope this will change soon. About 300 of them are members of the Charged Hong Kong group, meeting with lawmakers, power companies and representatives of electric car manufacturers to improve EV infrastructure and policy. Charged Hong Kong also has been requested by Tesla to produce charging guidelines that will be distributed to all new EV owners in Hong Kong.
“What we find is that there are lots of different people making decisions, and nobody knows what everybody else thinks,” said Bower.