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May 22, 2017

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Home » Business » Autotalk Special

Getting a charge, the new urban quest

YOU can’t operate an electric or plug-in hybrid car if you don’t have a place to recharge the batteries. That has been a basic stumbling block in government’s efforts to popularize purchase of new-energy vehicles.

But now some progress is being made. Shanghai government and companies operating charging sites are resolved to step up efforts to provide more numerous and convenient spots for recharging.

Shanghai, China’s first pilot city for electric vehicle development, is expected to have 210,000 charging facilities including charging poles and charging stations by 2020, according to a blueprint from the city’s transport commission.

Companies have pledged to add more charging poles in Shanghai this year.

“We are going to add more poles in central areas of the city, especially inside the Inner Ring Road,” said Huang Chunhua, chief marketing officer at Shanghai-based Global Carsharing & Rental Co.

Global Carsharing said it will add 6,000 public charging poles to the 17,000 already in operation by the end of June.

Shanghai SAIC AnYo Charging Technology Co said it plans to add 6,000 charging poles in the rest of this year. By the end of April, the company had about 5,800 of them in the city.

The majority of new-energy vehicle owners primarily charge their cars at their residential complexes or at workplaces, if charging infrastructure is available, according to a survey conducted by KPMG China and AutoForesight.

Global Carsharing said users of charging poles are mainly office workers who drive electric cars for their daily commute. Newly built residential communities, office buildings, shopping centers and major transportation hubs are the priority targets for new charging stations.

“There are about 30 operators of charging poles in Shanghai,” said David Zhang, an independent automotive consultant. “The density of charging poles in Shanghai is relatively high compared with other cities.”

Consumers not only want easy access to charging sites, they also want faster charging systems and would like to pay charging fees via mobile apps.

The quality of charging poles is improving as advanced technology kicks in and manufacturing costs drop, Huang said.

According to a survey by SAIC AnYo, high-speed charging poles take 80 minutes to reach 80 percent of charging capacity, while low-speed poles normally take five hours.

“I want faster charging for my electric car,” said Zhou Xiaoyu, 32, who works for a marketing research company in Shanghai. “I would like it much better if charging only took one or two hours instead of five.”

New-energy vehicle owners said they also would like to see more charging poles in residential communities.

Some newly built communities are willing to install charging poles. Progress is slower in older neighborhood, where parking space is limited.

SAIC AnYo said it is also stepping up construction of charging poles in new residential communities, but cited the space problem in old communities.

The demand for easier payment is also being heard.

Qingdao-based TGOOD-Shanghai Co said it has a partnership with Alipay, Baidu and other online platforms to provide easier payment for consumers. New-energy vehicle owners can find charging poles of the company on Alipay and pay fees via the mobile app. In the first quarter of 2017, there are 500 new users who used Alipay to pay the charging fees, according to the company.


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