We’ve posted blogs about EVs before, but here’s an interesting report about how a higher number of EVs are improving life in an entire city. If you haven’t been to China – and recalling the response by athletes to the Olympic games there – air quality is a huge long-term problem. Here’s a city that now is second only to Oslo, Norway in its percentage of EVs … and is enjoying a measurably higher quality-of-life experience, and lower driving costs, as well. I’ll add comments afterwards.
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Chinese City Shows Benefits Of Electric Cars Impact The Entire Community
Liuzhou, China has the highest percentage of EV sales
in the world except for Oslo, Norway. How did it do it?
29 June 2021
If you listen to the news in the United States, you will hear some people complain about government incentives for electric cars. “Why should my taxes go to letting some liberal egghead buy an electric car? It doesn’t do anything for me,” they say. Hold onto that thought.
You may have read recently about the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV, an electric mini-car that is selling like crazy in China. Produced by a consortium owned by SAIC, GM, and Wuling, it is proving very popular in smaller Chinese cities. The car starts at just $4,200 (upmarket versions cost more than $5,000!), making it affordable to a whole new category of buyers who never could afford a private vehicle before.
In the southern Chinese city of Liuzhou, 30% of new car sales are electric — 5 times the national average — with the MINI EV leading the way. As a result, the city is a quiet zone. Business Standard says …
“Missing is the incessant noise of
throbbing engines and clashing
gears that provides the backdrop
to daily life in most metropolises
around the globe.”
Gou Yi, a deputy chief at Liuzhou’s branch of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, said in an interview:
“At the beginning, people had many concerns
about EVs, such as safety or the convenience
of charging. What we did was to make sure
our citizens felt it’s very comfortable to use
EVs. People have realized how economical
and easy electric cars are, and how much
cleaner our air has become after more
and more EVs hit the roads.”
Ah, there’s the connection we teased at the beginning of this story. Even though Liuzhou is an industrial city, the water quality of the Liujiang River that flows through the city was ranked No. 1 among China’s inland rivers last year. Daily air quality was rated excellent about 97% of the time in 2020, compared to just 76% in the capital Beijing.
The upshot is all those EV incentives confer tangible health benefits on the community from clean water and clean air. Those who rail against incentives might just as well inveigh against public expenditures for airports because they don’t fly or interstate highways because they don’t drive long distances.
A Coordinated System Of EV Incentives
Liuzhou’s main motivation for embracing EVs was to strengthen the local auto industry, which accounts for about half of the city’s industrial output. The strategy worked. Last year, industrial activity related to auto manufacturing surged 64%.
The city began by introducing skeptical residents to electric cars. Joint venture SAIC-GM-Wuling conducted a 10-month ride and drive campaign in 2017. More than 15,000 people took the JV’s Baojun E100 for a spin, providing the company with 12,000 items of feedback. The trial was so popular that available slots ran out within minutes and 70% of test-drivers bought one of the vehicles.
Wuling then studied residents’ needs and driving habits, tailoring the Baojun E100 for a daily commute of less than 30 kilometers (19 miles). The micro-size 2-seater — about half the length of a Tesla Model X and similar in appearance to the Smart car — costs about $5,000. That not only helps lower the bar for ownership, but reduces operating and insurance costs as well.
In a further incentive, drivers can earn cash rewards of up to 1,000 yuan ($160) a year for driving up to 10,000 kilometers. Hua Yong, an official in charge of EV promotion, says he earned 500 yuan the first year he had his EV and 400 yuan the next.
Banker Zhang Jiageng says the cost of using his Baojun E200 is almost unnoticeable. He pays about 0.1 yuan, or 2 cents, per kilometer for charging and gets unlimited free parking at the designated electric vehicle parking lots or two hours free in regular car parks. Zhang says today he barely drives his other car, a Subaru SUV.
Bill Russo, chief executive officer of advisory firm Automobility Ltd. in Shanghai, says:
“If you make EVs that are affordable and
convenient, then they will replace peoples’
bike, scooter or whatever else they might
be commuting on. Smaller cities in China
typically lack public transport options
and an affordable EV can extend the
range of people in a city by extending
the commuting range of residents.”
Steering people toward electric cars without mandates is a challenge, Jochen Siebert, managing director at JSC Automotive in Singapore, tells Business Standard. Authorities in the province of Guangxi, where Liuzhou is located, are anxious to expand the strategy to other cities in the province and across China. Siebert says:
“Cities should support the light-weight
and small vehicles coming into the city
as those vehicles can fit into everywhere
and not using too much energy. That
should be the future.”
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What I like about this report is that it’s giving people a better and healthier quality-of-life experience …for less money. Adding comments from D …
“This shows that it is possible to make large changes toward living more sustainably. This joint venture of manufacturers not only manufactured a new car, they also took on the potential resistance by listening and then adjusting, to make the cars work for this city. It is a beautiful model of how to implement change.”