China will encourage private capital to construct and operate charging facilities as the government seeks to speed creation of infrastructure to meet its 2020 goal of five million electric vehicles in use.
Government agencies will be encouraged to buy new-energy vehicles including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars and reward companies for development of batteries, according to a statement posted on State Council website. China will also increase the use of new-energy vehicles as buses and taxis, it said, citing a decision taken at a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
President Xi Jinping has designated the development of electric vehicles as a strategic initiative in a bid to upgrade the auto industry, curb pollution and cut dependence on imported oil. The government is stepping up its support after signs the combination of research grants, consumer subsidies and infrastructure investments is yielding results as new-energy vehicle sales surged more than fourfold last year.
Buyers of electric cars at present get central government subsidies, depending on the vehicle’s range with a single charge. Local governments often match those incentives. In addition, users of new-energy vehicles are exempt from registration and usage restrictions.
The State Council also urged its agencies to crack down on any cheating on government subsidies offered on new-energy vehicles, according to the statement.
Despite these incentives, electric-car sales have lagged behind government targets amid concerns about the lack of access to charging facilities. China reported sales of 331,092 units of such vehicles as of the end of last year, compared with a target to have more than half a million units on its roads.