Saturday, 20 December 2014

Limo Service In Chicago Using Tesla’s Model S EVs Is Booming You may remember hearing pretty recently about a chauffeuring service using Tesla Model SEVs opening up in the city of Chicago — beginning operations just a couple of months ago, in October.

Well, apparently, that company — E-Motion Chauffeurs and Hires — has struck it big… to use a somewhat inappropriate expression (they do use EVs after all, not gas-powered vehicles).

Demand was actually so strong during the first week that the company’s servers crashed. Owing to ongoing success, the company recently placed an order for six more EVs from Tesla — this time the all-wheel drive Model S P85D, rather than the lower-speed standard Model S’s.

GAS2 provides more:

Company owner Abdullah Illahi is no stranger to the world of commerce. He is a successful commodity trader who knows that to break into a competitive market, you need an edge. Illahi figured using Teslas exclusively would give him the advantage he needed. “We are completely booked and I’ve been looking for other Tesla owners to try to cover some of our overflows,” Illahi told in an interview. As part of his marketing strategy, his cars are the only ones in the world that are completely black inside and out.

In addition to the environmental considerations of using only zero emissions cars, Illahi expects maintenance costs for his fleet will be far lower than they would be for gasoline powered cars. He isn’t alone in his thinking either; Tesla Tours out of Portland takes customers on vineyard trips across the Oregon wine country, and in London the high-tech GLiiDE taxi service also uses the Model S exclusively.

Illahi is already now aiming to expand his company’s service area to another major American city — apparently either New York or Los Angeles. “We’ve gotten a lot of regulars from New York. They love Teslas and would love to see us take our business to Wall Street.”

To be honest, his marketing strategy seems to have worked on me, because I’m all of a sudden considering utilizing the company’s services next time that I’m in Chicago.

The EV Tipping Point Will Come Quickly An Interview With Fastned CEO Michiel Langezaal; Why The Mass Adoption Of EVs Is Inevitable

Though the Netherlands’ EV sales are picking up, Fastned cofounder & CEO Michiel Langezaal does not think they will reach the national goal of 200,000 EVs and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2020. There are still parts of the country that are beyond the reach of EVs with a 100-kilometers-per-charge range. Around 85% of the population does not have parking spaces at home where they can charge. Yet Langezaal says the EV tipping point will come quickly.

He gave four reasons for expecting to see EVs replace gas cars:
Batteries get better every year. They charge faster, hold more energy, last longer, and are cheaper.

Charging will eventually be as easy as filling up at a gas station.

Once the infrastructure is there, the switch to electric will be much easier.
Electric cars are “computers on wheels,” developed by software engineers. A gasoline car has one function, going forward. The apt comparison is an old dial phone to an iPhone.

The Dutch may not meet their target for 2020, but Langezaal expects to surge past the goal of 1 million EVs and plug-in hybrids by 2025.

“One million is only 15% of the total cars in the Netherlands,” he explained. “History shows us that once you hit 5% or 6%, if the product is better, then the breakthrough comes much quicker. So I think that 2020 figure will be hard to achieve. We will work very hard, 200,000 is quite a lot, but beyond 2020 we will not go to one million cars on the roads we will go to 8 million.”
Europe’s Electric Corridor

Fastned recently received €2 million from the EU to build 94 charging stations in Germany and the Netherlands.

This is part of a €4.2 million subsidy for a consortium of EV charging companies in four nations. The other members are CLEVER A/S from Denmark, Öresundskraft AB from Sweden, VDE Prüf-und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH from Germany, and the international EV-charging giant ABB. They will build an electric corridor that encompasses 35 locations in Sweden, 23 in Denmark, 30 in the Netherlands, and 67 in Germany.

“We’re working on the concessions for the locations (in Germany), after that comes building permits,” said Langezaal. “It could take a year, or two years before we start to build. It very much depends on government and my experience is that it takes years.”

He added, “Let’s hope we can use what we learned in the Netherlands to accelerate them.”

German automakers realize they need to build EVs if they want to survive, but they are still nervous. They are following behind Tesla and Nissan, who made that step three or four years ago. Last week, the German car magazine Autobild published a story about the opposition to Tesla.

“Changing a 100,000 people company to build electric cars is not easy,” conceded Langezaal.

There is not much growth in the German market, but the government has signed on to this deal. Langezall said that stamp of approval will be helpful when they start applying for permits. He also believes Germany will continue to lag behind Norway and the Netherlands for two or three years.

Fastned is a marked improvement over the slow charging network that Dutch municipalities like Amsterdam have invested in.

People don’t want slow chargers anymore. Some have even asked dealerships to take vehicles back, after discovering they cannot be fast charged.

Fastned originated as a Delft University startup, in 2010. One of the cornerstones of its success was acquiring 200 prime locations along the Netherlands’ highways.

“In the last two years, Fastned has looked like a real estate company: getting approval and permits; getting grid connections,” said Langezaal.

He added, “It’s like a flow pipe. At the beginning you’re pumping in stuff and at some point it starts flowing out the other side. I think things are beginning to flow.”

Fastned builds its charging stations in 2 to 2½ weeks (it takes 6 to 8 weeks for a gas station). It currently has 19 operational locations and another 10 in the planning stage. Fastned has been adding a new station every week since September.

Langezaal says EV owners are phoning the company every day. As there are only 4 superchargers in the Netherlands, even Tesla owners want to know if they can use Fastned stations.

Friday, 19 December 2014

In Just One Year, Electric Cars Have Gotten Cleaner: How'd They Do That?

Chevrolet Spark EV at CCS fast charging station in San Diego. Electric cars have no tailpipe emissions, but their overall impact on the environment includes the electricity generated to recharge their batteries.

The carbon emissions associated with that power vary greatly, depending on the local utility that provides it.

Now an updated study from the Union of Concerned Scientists calculates that in many states, electric cars now have lower "wells-to-wheels" emissions per mile than they did just a year ago.

So how'd they do that? The answer is that two things have changed.

First, the sales-weighted mix of electric cars sold has gotten slightly more efficient from December 2010, when the first one was sold, to June 2014.

Electric-car wells-to-wheels emission equivalencies in MPG, Sep 2014 [Union of Concerned Scientists]

An increase in the electric range of the Nissan Leaf from 73 miles (2011-2012 models) to 84 miles (2014-2015 models) accounts for part of this increase.

So does the May arrival of more efficient new models like the BMW i3, which has the highest efficiency rating of any car sold in the U.S. this year.

That means it takes fewer watt-hours to drive 1 mile than it used to.

Second, the UCS updated its "State of Charge" study in September, to use more recent data on the state-by-state mix of generating sources and the carbon dioxide--a greenhouse gas--associated with the production of each kilowatt-hour.

The previous edition of the study used 2009 plant emissions and generation data from U.S. eGrid report. The latest version updates that by one year, to 2010 data; each was the most up-to-date breakout at the time.

U.S. electric power generation by fuel type [Energy Information Agency, U.S. Dept of Energy via UCS]

The UCS points out that data from 2011 and 2012 (not yet included in the eGrid model) indicates a further reduction in coal generation.

The net effect is that the MPG equivalency figures for electric cars have risen from both more efficient use of every kilowatt-hour, and lower carbon emissions associated with each of those kWh.

In California, which buys up to half of the nation's plug-in cars, a gasoline car would now have to deliver 95 mpg (up from 78 mpg) to be as low-emission as the average plug-in electric car.

And the UCS notes that the wells-to-wheels emissions per mile for plug-in electric cars has fallen in virtually every U.S. region.

Three more states have entered the "Best" category, meaning the emissions from an electric car in those states are lower than those of a 50-mpg Toyota Prius--the most efficient gasoline car you can buy without a plug.

Even some northern Plains states (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) moved from "Good" (31-40 MPG equivalent) to "Better" (41-50 MPG).

A variety of studies shows that electric cars are always cleaner than gasoline and diesel cars unless they're recharged using electricity produced largely or entirely from coal.

Today, coal is less than 40 percent of the average U.S. generation mix, and that percentage is expected to fall as utilities switch more of their mix to natural gas, while simultaneously boosting the capacity of renewable sources: wind, solar, and hydroelectric.

Electric-car wells-to-wheels emission equivalencies in MPG, Sep 2013 [Union of Concerned Scientists]

But the percentage of coal varies greatly from state to state; California and some Northeast states have the cleanest grids.

Illinois, Ohio, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming presently have the dirtiest grids--but even North Dakota improved on this year's study.

New manufacturers to join Season 2 Formula E Formula E is poised for an influx of manufacturers for its second season, with series founder Alejandro Agag expecting "a number from six to eight" to sign up.

Agag also revealed that they will bring a diversification of electric powertrains to the series.

The all-electric single-seater series is three races into its first season of competition with all cars running identical powertrains built by McLaren, with batteries from Williams - overarched by technical partner Renault.

But season two will feature a more open concept to spark a technology competition between teams.

"There was an application process by the FIA for future manufacturers for this championship," revealed Agag to AUTOSPORT.

"That finished on October 31, and 12 applications were presented.

"They are a mix of car manufacturers and others are technology companies - which is a really different option for us, so ones that produce batteries, electric motors or even a full powertrain - and we will find out who has been successful in the next week.

"The selected manufacturers could be in a number from anything from six to eight.

"We will then have meetings to clearly define their roadmap of the technology level of the championship.

"It's very important to develop a five-year roadmap to define the clear direction that this championship is going to go.

"We need to decide what areas can be developed and what can not - but the focus must remain on the electric powertrain."

Although the final decision will rest with the FIA as the series' regulator, Agag wants to keep the current Spark chassis for "a number of years" to focus on developments of the powertrains, especially in terms of their economy and range.

"The good news is that we will have quite a number of different powertrains next year; we will have some big names delivering those," he added.

"We have a great idea of the direction that we're going to go, and we'll of course work closely with the FIA on the regulations and with the selected manufacturers.

"We will have the competition that we've always wanted to have that will improve the technology."

Mercedes B-Class Electric Car Cuts Lifetime Carbon Emissions Up To 64 Percent

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive The environmental impact of plug-in electric cars continues to be the subject of significant discussion and debate among those less familiar with the technology and its impacts.

Virtually all studies conclude that they use less energy on a well-to-wheels basis than internal-combustion vehicles--especially when recharged from low-carbon or renewable sources.

However, the environmental impact of manufacturing an electric vehicle appears to be higher--although exactly how much higher has been hotly debated since modern electric cars went on sale.

Lifecycle carbon emissions of Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive versus gasoline B 180 version

Now, Daimler has provided a lifecycle analysis of its Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive that shows it's genuinely greener than a gasoline car, including the impact of its manufacturing.

The analysis (PDF)--conducted by the Germany-based regulatory body TUV--shows that the electric B-Class cuts lifetime carbon emissions by 24 percent over a B 180 gasoline model when charged from a mix ofpower sources.

If it's charged exclusively with power from hydroelectric sources, its lifetime carbon is 64 percent lower than that of the four-cylinder gasoline model.

That analysis assumes the car is driven 160,000 kilometers (almost 100,000 miles) over its lifetime, and recycled at the end of its use.

Since the B-Class is based on an existing internal-combustion model, it theoretically offers a more direct comparison than do other electric cars built on dedicated platforms.

Mercedes does note that emissions related to the manufacturing of the electric model are higher than other B-Class models, but that's more than offset by a lifetime of much lower-carbon driving.

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

The B-Class Electric Drive is sold in the U.S. in limited numbers, but its overall lifetime emissions score will be different in each location it's sold, depending on electricity sources used to charge it.

Electric cars get greener as grids do, and using electricity from renewable sources minimizes their overall carbon footprint.

Conversely, that footprint increases when cars are charged from the dirtiest, coal-fired grids--making geography an important factor if you want to minimize the greenhouse-gas effects of your driving.

But the bottom line remains, with yet another study to underscore the conclusion: Electric cars are simply greener to drive than gasoline cars if recharged from any source except coal-fired power plants.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

UK tax regime putting brake on electric cars, study finds Campaign group Transport & Environment says the government can drive further cuts in average new car emissions by shaking up taxes.

The UK must reform its tax regime for the most polluting cars or risk being left in the slow lane by Europe's green vehicle leaders, a campaign group has warned.

A new report by campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) outlined that tax changes in 2002 drove a steady reduction in new car CO2 emissions to just above the EU average, but this progress had stalled.

Last year, the UK recorded 128.3 grams of CO2 per kilometre, compared to 127g/km across the EU, but T&E says its "below average" annual improvement of 3.5 per cent ranks it twelfth among EU member states and well behind frontrunner the Netherlands, which recorded 109.1g/km and boasts 5.3 per cent of electric vehicles in its national fleet. The UK is actually closer to laggard Germany, on 136.1g/CO2, and Poland, with 138.1g/CO2, than it is to the top spot.

"From a UK perspective, we've seen no real developments to the taxation framework for a number of years," Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at T&E, told BusinessGreen. "The Treasury needs to look at what it's trying to do in supporting markets for low-carbon vehicles. The government makes strong statements, saying it is supporting low-carbon vehicles, but in reality it has pretty moderate policies compared to other European countries that are driving the market."

The UK does take CO2 emissions into account in levying vehicle excise duty (VED), commonly known as road tax, with electric cars and some hybrids wholly exempt. It also offers subsidies of up to £5,000 off the cost of a new electric car and up to £8,000 for electric vans, but so far these vehicles make up only 0.2 per cent of the UK's fleet.

But, Archer said the VED payments for gas guzzlers was not sufficiently different from more efficient models and the legislation ensuring new car buyers pay for three years of VED up front "hasn't created a big enough price signal to really change people's behaviour at all". Ongoing price freezes for fuel duty also did little to encourage a shift to low-carbon vehicles.

CO2 emissions from new cars in Europe, 2013 (Transport & Environment)

In the UK, company car tax can pose another problem – its current level, below the rate of income tax, is effectively subsidising vehicle purchases – but Germany also performs poorly, with a hefty subsidy that is not differentiated for CO2.

Echoing most of Europe, the UK's company car tax regime encourages buyers towards diesels by setting the same level of tax for both technologies. Diesels have lower CO2 emissions, so can benefit from lower VED, but they pump out particulate matter (PM) and NOx, which is blamed for air pollution and up to 400,000 premature deaths across Europe each year.

Only Denmark and the Netherlands have specific surcharges on diesels – aimed at penalising their contribution to air pollution and discouraging purchases – and both countries occupy lofty positions on the emissions leaderboard.

The Department for Transport had not replied to a request for comment at the time of going to press, but it could argue that lower emissions are not always the result of supportive fiscal regimes. Greece secured the second spot as fewer expensive, gas-guzzling vehicles are being bought in the recession-hit country, while the downturn has encouraged an already existing national tendency to buy smaller vehicles in countries such as Italy and Spain.

But, following the Dutch example of imposing substantial taxes on purchases, adjusted for CO2 emissions – a policy that has driven down average emissions from 157g/km in 2008 to 109g/km in 2013, including an eight per cent drop in 2013 alone – could allow for reductions to be made in a strong UK economy without undue cost.

"We've advocated something akin to the French system, whereby you offer tax support for low-emission vehicles, paid for by taxes on gas guzzlers," Archer says. "In that way, the market gets moved, but it doesn't need to cost the government anything in terms of real money."

He adds that the UK can also make better use of "out-of-the-box thinking" to push the uptake of low-carbon cars: "The UK needs to look at [initiatives such as] preferential parking, which people value very highly in terms of convenience, but don't create a huge drag on the Exchequer in the way that £5,000 grants for electric cars do."

The UK is on track to meet EU regulations limiting average car emissions to 130g/km by 2015 and 95g/km by 2021, according to official statistics. But, given the 31 per cent differential between lab performance and real-world driving, there remains a risk it could miss its national climate goals unless changes are made.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Europe: shared charging network reaches 17,000 charge points

Shared charging network to enable trans-European EV touring The two countries will share a network of 17,000 charging points spanning six countries
Two of Europe’s largest charging point networks have formed an agreement which will enable cross-border journeys in an electric vehicle.

Under the agreement, British network Charge Your Car, which has 2,000 points and The New Motion, which a network of 15,000 spanning the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Belgium, will share their networks under a single membership.

Alexandra Prescott, operations director at Charge Your Car, said: ‘This agreement is a logical step to enhance services for both The New Motion and CYC drivers. Continental roaming is easier, opening up new e-mobility opportunities across Europe for our drivers.’

Ritsaart van Montfrans, Founder of The New Motion, added: ‘This will open up new routes and new adventures for EV drivers on both sides of the Channel, in line with our mission to continue to facilitate and enable more electric kilometres to be driven by more EV drivers across Europe.’

Saturday, 13 December 2014

London: French Autolib' scheme will be rolled out from next September under latest plans Electric rental car scheme to land in London next year

London's Autolib' cars are expected to be finished in red

The French electric car rental scheme Autolib’ is heading for the UK. The company says it will open its second overseas franchise in London in summer 2015.

Nearly 3000 of the Pininfarina-designed electric cars are currently based in central Paris. The scheme has recently been expanded to Lyon and Bordeaux and is about to open in Indianapolis in the US.

Autocar can also reveal that the scheme's car supplier Bolloré has signed a deal to have its battery-powered Bluecars built by Renault at its Alpine plant in Dieppe.

Cédric Bolloré, the development director for Autolib’s parent company, said the company is also working on a three-seat electric rental car with Renault. The new model will be "lighter [than the current car] and fits the needs of typical Autolib’ trips, which average 2.2 passengers per journey".

It is expected that the London rental scheme will go live in September 2015 with between 200 and 250 of the Bluecars available for hire. The cars will be right-hand drive and are likely to be painted bright red (probably with the same Pantone 485 ‘Safety Red’ used by London buses).

The pricing of the scheme is expected to be similar to that in Paris, with a £100 annual fee to join and a charge of around £5 for 30 minutes’ use.

Cédric Bolloré told Autocar that Transport for London (TfL) had been asked by London Mayor Boris Johnson to organise the electric car rental scheme. It had been put out to open tender and Bolloré won the contract, which Autocar understands will run for an initial 12 years.

Autolib’ has already taken over the Source London charging points, and more charging points will be installed in the 27 of the 33 London boroughs which have signed up for the rental scheme.

The company says it will standardise the charging systems across the city and ensure that they are fully functional. Owners of private electric plug-in vehicles will also be allowed to use the Autolib’ charging points for a charge.

The government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles will pay the installation and maintenance costs of the chargers.

The London boroughs signed up for the Autolib’ scheme will have to allocate permanent parking spaces for the rental cars and the charging points. Autolib’ will compensate the boroughs for the loss of parking revenue, Autocar understands.

Cédric Bolloré says he sees no reason why the London Autolib’ scheme should not expand at the same rate as it has in Paris, which currently has nearly 3000 rental cars on its streets. If the London scheme expands at the same rate as the original scheme, there could be as many as 3000 hire cars across the capital by 2018.

However, unlike Paris, which is noted for its wide boulevard streets, finding sufficient permanent parking spaces for the London Autolib’ scheme could be difficult. The ‘Boris bikes’ rbicycle ental scheme and various car-sharing schemes already have parking spaces on permanent allocation.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Netherlands: EV And Hybrid Car Sales Remain High Of all cars sold in the first three quarters of 2014 in the Netherlands, 4.3% were electric or hybrid cars. In the last quarter of 2013, the number was even higher: 15%. The main reason for these very high EV sales in the Netherlands is fiscal measures, says Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, who published the figures.

The Netherlands does not manufacture EVs. Roland Berger compared the Dutch sales figures to those of the major EV-producing countries: Germany, France, Italy, the US, Japan, China and South Korea. Of these countries, the highest percentage of electric and hybrid cars sold was in France, just under 1%, says Roland Berger.

The number of electric and hybrid cars sold in the last quarter of 2013 was 14,842. The best-selling car was the Mitsubishi Outlander, with 8,039 sales. Most EVs and hybrids sold in the Netherlands are made in Japan: the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf are also popular. Worldwide Japan and the United States are the biggest producers of EVs and hybrids: they are expected to produce 450,000 each, says Roland Berger. Japan is the world’s biggest car battery manufacturer with a share of 60%.

The Netherlands wants to have 200,000 EVs and hybrids on the road in 2020. Currently it has 70,000, almost 1% of the total.

After 1 January, the fiscal advantages for electric and hybrid cars were reduced in the Netherlands, which led to slower but still healthy sales. According to Roland Berger, the Dutch market is also attractive because “e-mobility” is promoted strongly by policymakers. The number of charging stations (plug-ins) has doubled since 2013.

Just last week, one of the leading providers of fast-charging stations for EVs in the Netherlands, Fastned, announced that it has received a €2 million subsidy from the EU to build 94 charging stations in Germany and the Netherlands. They will become part of a “corridor”of 155 locations in four countries. Fastned already has 18 fast charging stations operational along highways in the Netherlands and is adding one new station every week.

China Offers Billions to Subsidize Electric Cars on Gas

A BYD Co. electronic vehicle is charged at an EV charging station at the company's... Read More China’s ambitious plan to lower pollution by adopting five million electric cars is running into a problem -- a lack of charging stations.

Eddy Wu, a Shanghai resident, bought a plug-in hybrid because the car was eco-friendly, subsidized by the government and exempt from license-plate fees. Now he runs it mostly on gasoline, the electric capabilities largely wasted.

His apartment complex and office won’t let him charge the BYD Co. (1211) vehicle in their parking lots, saying it poses a fire risk. Using the nearest public charging station means driving 5 kilometers (3 miles) and paying cash. With gas pricesexpected to tumble with the almost 40 percent plunge in crude-oil since June, there will even less incentive to charge his Qin sedan.

“I was optimistic about charging facilities at first, but it’s been difficult,” said the 33-year-old securities analyst. “I have no choice but to use gas.”

While a dearth of charging stations is holding back adoption of electric vehicles worldwide, the problem is particularly acute in China because the country has pledged to slash greenhouse emissions and cut a reliance on imported oil, while keeping domestic carmakers competitive amid an industry shift away from conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.

A Chevrolet Volt electric car is being charged in a parking lot at General Motors China... Read More

“China needs to succeed in this,” said Klaus Paur, head of the automotive department at market-research company Ipsos. “There’s dependency on oil, with almost 25 percent of the world’s production going to China. I believe it’s the only chance for the Chinese car manufacturers to quickly catch up with international car manufacturers.”
‘Range Anxiety’

In the U.S. and Germany, “range anxiety” -- or a driver’s fear of running out of power before reaching the nearest charging station -- has been an obstacle to electric-car adoption. The lack of unified payment systems is another challenge, with different charging networks using incompatible electronic payment cards.

In China, many car owners, like Wu, don’t have their own garages or parking spaces at home where they can charge their plug-ins overnight.

Yan Xuefei, also a Shanghai resident, wound up striking a deal that lets him charge his Qin at night at a factory near his apartment. The 27-year-old engineer can’t charge the car at his apartment complex because the limited designated parking spots are all taken. Building managers at his office also won’t let him do it there, he said.

Still, the factory’s parking lot is uncovered, and its managers forbid him from charging the car when it rains, saying they fear safety issues like short circuits.

“The government has given generous subsidies for us to buy the cars and publicized the merits of new-energy vehicles,” Yan said. “But so many car owners can’t easily charge their cars as they don’t have designated parking spots.”

Slow Demand

Demand for alternative-energy vehicles in China has been slow despite government subsidies that can reduce the cost of the cars by about 60,000 yuan ($9,750). As of September, the nation had achieved only 12 percent of its target for alternative-energy vehicles to be introduced by 2015, according to government figures released last month. By 2020, the goal is to have 5 million of these autos on China’s roads.

The vehicles also qualify for an exemption from a 10 percent purchase tax, as well as free license plates issued in cities including Shanghai, where plates for a conventional gasoline-powered auto can cost about $12,000.
Cutting Emissions

The EU in October said it’ll cut emissions by 40 percent in the four decades through 2030. Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged in November that his country’s emissions will peak around 2030, as it boosts its use of renewable and nuclear energy. His announcement was made jointly with a pledge by U.S. President Barack Obama to slash emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent in the 20 years through 2025.

Dong Yang, secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, urged the city of Beijing to speed up construction of charging stations in a blog post on Nov. 24.

“When plug-in hybrid owners decide whether to use electricity or gasoline, the determining factor is charging facilities,” Dong wrote. “With the increase of charging facilities, the effects of reduced gas emissions from plug-in hybrid vehicles will become more apparent.”

The government said Nov. 25 it will give city governments incentives to speed up construction of vehicle-charging facilities. It also plans to encourage private investment in building charging stations, the Industry and Information Technology ministry said on Sept. 25.

Government Incentives

The central government is considering spending as much as 100 billion yuan to build charging facilities and spur demand for new-energy vehicles, two people familiar with the matter said in August.

In Shanghai, the city’s government plans to build 6,000 charging points by 2015, while it has a target of 13,000 alternative-energy vehicles on its roads during the same time frame. It’s also working with companies including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG to build charging facilities.

Tesla, the U.S. electric-car maker that started selling its Model S in China in April, has begun its own efforts to make charging easier for customers. The company has deals to build 400 charging points in 120 cities using the outlets of China Unicom (762), the nation’s second-largest mobile phone company.

Tesla also has agreements with real-estate developers Soho China Ltd. (410) and China Yantai Holdings Co. to set up charging points at their properties nationwide.

When hybrid owners like Wu don’t plug in their cars, their vehicles actually wind up using more gasoline than conventional cars, according to Hubertus Troska, Daimler’s chief executive officer for the greater China region.

“You’re carrying 150 kilos of electric components with you that add to the fuel consumption,” Troska told reporters in the city of Guangzhou last month. “The effective reduction of emissions will only come if customers actually charge their plug-ins every day.”