China paving way for electric vehicles

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China has set a new electric vehicle target for automobiles purchased by the country’s government.

According to the plan, some 30% of all vehicles bought by the Chinese government between 2014 and 2016 will have to be electric, China’s official news agency reported Sunday.

The move is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to deal with the country’s dire air pollution problem and boost the electric car market.

As reported in Phys.org, five government ministries and departments have agreed on the joint plan, which calls for annual increases in the share of electric cars after 2016.

China, the world’s biggest automobile market by number of cars sold, also moved last week to exempt electric cars and other types of new energy vehicles from sales tax.

The State Council said buyers of electric, hybrid and fuel cell cars would not have to pay the tax, which is equal to 10% tax of the vehicle’s net value — from September until the end of 2017.

"For achieving industrial development and environmental protection, this is a win-win," the State Council said in a statement.

The exemption applies to both imported as well as domestically produced cars. The government is expected to compile a catalogue of eligible models.

High prices and a lack of infrastructure have hindered the broader adoption of electric vehicles in China, but that is changing.

In April, U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla made its first delivery of car orders to Chinese customers in Beijing. Tesla chief exec Elon Musk has said the company would make significant investments in China, including the creation of seven Supercharger networks. Tesla has tapped Hanergy to provide the first solar carports in the planned network of PV Supercharger stations in the country. The first batch of stations is slated for Beijing and Shanghai.

While China currently has only about 70,000 electric vehicles in use, the government hopes to have five million electric vehicles on the streets by 2020. Government subsidies and local incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles are also available to consumers.