Speed Bumps on a Green Highway

Clean, green, and emission-free, electric vehicles (EVs) are unquestionably the future of motoring… but there are practical and technological speed bumps to overcome before drivers give up their petrol and diesel cars entirely.

Speed Bumps on a Green Highway


The world is in a race against time to reduce emissions and combat the impact of climate change – and the transport sector alone accounts for almost a quarter of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to the International Energy Association (IEA).


That is why electric vehicles (EVs) are critical to our collective future, as they do not emit CO2 while being driven. 


Switching from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles to EVs, therefore, will play a major part in efforts to limit global warming to within 1.5°C compared with pre-industrial levels under the terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Global Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Sector

Source: IEA 

A global shift of gear 

Nearly one in three of the world’s new vehicles will be electrified by 2030, says Deloitte, which predicts total EV sales will grow from 2.5 million in 2020 to 31.1 million by 2030. 


To speed up the adoption of EVs, governments have set out and even tightened plans for bans on the registering of new conventional vehicles. Norway aims to become the first country in the world to ban the sale of such cars by 2025, while in the UK, the plan has recently been brought forward 10 years from 2040 to 2030.


In China, the government issued a New Energy Vehicle 2035 plan, aiming to raise the ratio of EVs sold to 25% by 2025 and to closely integrate EVs into the power grid.


With sales of vehicles with internal combustion engines already past their peak, nearly every major auto manufacturer has announced significant investments in EV production, as well as sales targets to compete in the fast-growing market over the coming decade. 

Here are some examples of major auto manufacturers’ EV sales targets:
  • Toyota plans to sell 5.5 million EVs by 2030. 
  • Nissan aims to sell 1 million EVs by 2022, doubling its sales of 500,000 Nissan Leaf EVs since 2010. 
  • Volkswagen hopes to bring 75 fully electric models and 60 hybrid models to the market, and expects to have 20% to 25% of its total sales from EVs by 2030.
  • Tesla is planning to produce and sell 20 million EVs a year by 2030, 40 times more than the 500,000 vehicles it sold in 2020.

Road blocks in Hong Kong

The number of EVs in Hong Kong was close to 22,000 at the end of June, representing only around 2.3% of total vehicles. That low proportion demonstrates how much more remains to be done to boost EV uptake in the city.


The Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles was launched earlier this year, setting out the long-term policy objectives and plans to promote the adoption of EVs and supporting facilities.

Registration of fuel-run private cars, including hybrid vehicles, will be banned by 2035 or earlier to achieve zero vehicle emissions before 2050. The roadmap also includes a goal of increasing the number of private and public charging facilities to 150,000 and 5,000 respectively by 2025.


Despite the Government’s efforts, however, barriers remain to the wider adoption of EVs in Hong Kong.


According to a survey by database company Statista, 38% of consumers in Hong Kong said the high purchase cost was their top concern about EVs, while nearly 30% cited the lack of charging stations.

EV charging
Vehicle cost and a lack of charging stations is holding back the growth of the EV market in Hong Kong.

An EV can cost between 10% and 40% more than a petrol or diesel model, largely because of the high production cost of the batteries that power them.

Solid-state batteries
Solid-state batteries could hugely improve the competitiveness of EVs in terms of price, performance, and battery life.

Extensive research is now being carried out into the development of solid-state batteries. They use solid materials to replace the flammable liquid electrolytes in existing lithium-ion batteries, improving the safety of the batteries and generating up to 45% more power.


The solid-state batteries are expected to go into mass production as soon as 2025 and could lead to a significant improvement in the range of EVs as well as a reduction in their price.


The long-term ownership costs of EVs are substantially lower than those for conventional cars. New buyers can consider joining a replacement scheme to lower the upfront costs, or they can opt for used EVs for a more reasonable purchase price.


Charging remains another key issue to be tackled. Because of its limited land, Hong Kong faces issues in providing sufficient charging infrastructure across the territory.


Parking spaces with charging ports remain challenging to find. They are often occupied, sometimes by conventional vehicles, and charging takes considerably longer than filling a fuel tank.


Building a more comprehensive and reliable fast-charging network across the city is therefore vital if EVs are to be more widely adopted. 


As well as subsidies to increase the number of charging facilities, more charging ports could be made available in old buildings, and petrol stations could be gradually converted into EV charging stations.


CLP Power has for years promoted low-carbon driving to make Hong Kong a greener and smarter city. It has continually extended its free EV charging service to offer EV drivers a convenient and reliable territory-wide network. 


To cater to surging demand for its EV charging service, CLP Power has established semi-quick and quick EV charging stations in Kowloon, the New Territories, and Lantau. 


Meanwhile, Smart Charge, a joint venture between CLP Holdings and HKT, offers and deploys EV charging solutions in private and public carparks across Hong Kong.  


Accelerating the pace of change

Some critics of EVs argue that they are not truly sustainable or green because the way the electricity that powers them is produced still creates a lot of emissions.


New processes to avoid this are being explored. With a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) model, for example, EVs are able to trasnfer their electricity and sell demand response services back to the power grid, allowing for a more circular energy economy.


The electrification of vehicles will live up to its promise of a greener future when the prices of vehicles and batteries fall, when charging networks grow and become more intelligent, when more EV models are available and when EV technology matures.


By overcoming these speed bumps, the road ahead will become smoother, greener, and more sustainable.