'Green' vehicles gain popularity in China
Green vehicles -- hybrid, electric and fuel cell are gaining popularity in China owing to a rising concern over air pollution and generous government subsidies.
The sale of these vehicles, also called new energy vehicles, grew 53 per cent in 2016 to 507,000 units as compared to 2015, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the main industry group for the Chinese automotive industry.
Jochem Heizmann, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group China, told Efe news on Monday that the significant growth makes China's new energy vehicles market the biggest in the world and it will continue to remain so in future.
Rising green mobility in the world's second largest economy is also attracting more and more brands into the sector.
In 2015, China had assigned a 33.4 billion yuan ($4 billion) towards subsidies for the development of environment-friendly vehicles.
China's industry ministry plans to maintain its support till at least 2020, although it intends to toughen the requirements after it was discovered, in September 2016, that several companies manipulated data to avail more subsidies.
Consumers, however, are not bothered by the subsidy or its possible discontinuation when they are deciding to buy a green vehicle.
A Beijing resident told Efe news he bought an electric car for three reasons: He needed a vehicle, it was very difficult to register a normal vehicle and he wanted to experience the new technology, which is less polluting and almost noiseless.
The only disadvantage, he says, is that it cannot travel for more than 300 km on a single charge and even less than that during winter.
In cities like Beijing where the number of registration of new vehicles per year is restricted in order to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, green vehicles have an edge over regular ones and one of the reasons for their success in big cities, according to Professor Hao Yu of Beijing Institute of Technology.
However, another reason for their increased popularity in big cities over smaller ones, Hao adds, is the availability of more charging stations.
According to the National Energy Administration, there are 107,000 public and 170,000 private charging stations throughout the country and Beijing wants to make them available along 36,000 km of highways and one within a radius of one kilometre in the main cities.