China's drivers have accepted electric cars wholeheartedly but as unit sales rise, so have worries about the infrastructure required to support a fossil-fuel-free driving lifestyle. City planners estimate the number of electric vehicles registered in Beijing will hit 100,000 by 2015. That's a lot of plugs looking for outlets!
Currently electric car drivers can choose from 19 existing charging stations, with a further 39 due to be completed by the end of 2011. Plans are in the works to vastly increase the availability of charging points, however, with a set goal of 256 charging stations, 210 distribution stations and 42,000 charging posts to be established within the next 5 years.
“Many consumers buy a car not only to commute but also to meet other needs,” explained a representative from the State Grid Corporation of China's Beijing office who pointed out that these needs – worry-free commuting, for example – “are hard for the electric car to satisfy at this time. Authorities have to improve services to promote it.”
And they DO want to promote it. Statistics provided by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development & Reform underline the importance of electric vehicles when it comes to saving fuel and reducing air pollution: having 100,000 electric vehicles on Beijing's streets could save an estimated one million tons of gasoline annually.
It's taken several decades for oil companies to build enough service stations to meet the expectations of Beijing drivers so matching the penetration rate of gas stations in only half a decade is a lofty, though attainable, goal.
Success won't be judged just by numbers, however, but by the pleasure felt by electric vehicle drivers who no longer need to worry about running out of juice between charging points. By the looks of it, their cars will be pleased as well. (via Want China Times, images via AsiaBizz, China Development Gateway, and Cestar)