30 October 2016 – In the space of just six years, the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in Hong Kong has increased significantly, largely on the back of government support, new technology and greater awareness of environmental protection as well as effective corporate marketing. How does the EV industry embrace the business opportunities as well as challenges? The Eco Expo Asia, which was held at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong from 26 to 29 October, hosted three sessions of the Green Transportation Forum on Friday (28 October). The forum invited three industry experts to speak on the topics of EV market, chargers and charging facilities, offering an overview of the industry’s development.
Fast growing EV market in Hong Kong
Speaking at the session on “The Smart EV Charging Solutions for the Smart City”, Dr Lawrence Poon, Principal Consultant, Automotive & Electronics Division, Automotive Parts and Accessory Systems R&D Centre of the Hong Kong Productivity Council, quoted statistics showing the rapid increase of EVs in Hong Kong, from just 242 in 2011, to 552 in 2013 and a huge jump to 4,198 in 2014 and 6,167 as of August 2016. He remarked, “Elon Musk, founder and Chief Executive Officer of American EV maker Tesla Motors, has named Hong Kong as one of the fast-growing EV markets worldwide, as well as the best market for promoting the brand.”
While the EV market is expanding, Dr Poon believed the increase in the number of EV charging stations must also get up to speed in Hong Kong. He also quoted statistics stating that there were only 180 charging stations in Hong Kong in 2010, though the figure rose to 1,300 as of June 2016. Ninety per cent of the charging stations are medium-speed (two-hour charging time for 0 to 100%), in addition to about 70 high-speed charging stations (30 minutes).
He stressed that EV charging stations in Hong Kong are heading towards the third phase. “The first phase was prior to 2012, when charging speed was slow (e.g., 40 hours to fully charge Tesla Model S); the second-phase, wall-mounted and medium-speed charging stations use comparatively thin chargers that are reasonably priced.” As for third-phase high-speed charging stations, they are relatively large in size, about one-third the size of a regular car parking space.
Lightweight and high-speed charging solutions
Dr Poon predicted that the ratio of EVs will increase to between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the total number of vehicles in Hong Kong in the next 10 years. While the increase will create significant demand for high-speed charging stations, it will also present certain challenges. “Many buildings in Hong Kong were built more than 10 years ago, and they have no allocated space for installing an EV charging system,” he noted. Apart from promoting system upgrade, the Hong Kong Productivity Council has also successfully developed a high-speed charger of only 150mm in thickness.
He also noted that local energy company, CLP Holdings Ltd, also offers free charging services in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong. “The services are likely to become paid services in the future. Therefore, CLP is already installing the electronic payment system at the charging stations, and even looking into the development of mobile EV charging stations.”
Four selling points of smart ceiling EV charger
At the “Smart Ceiling EV Charger” session, Group President and Founder of Hong Kong EV Power Ltd, Laurence Chan, noted that there are about 1,000 wall-mounted charging stations in Hong Kong at present. However, they also present a number of problems. “Firstly, it is not safe to install distribution boards and conduits in car parks. Secondly, there is the risk of floor-mounted cables being run over by vehicles, which poses a potential hazard. Thirdly, it is too costly to run the cables below the floor.” In addition, installation will be impossible if there are no walls or pillars in the car park, he added.
In view of this, his company spent two years developing the smart ceiling charger. Mr Chan explained that the charger is easy to install and its operation is controlled by mobile app. “When the unique password has been inputted into the mobile phone, the device is connected to the charger via Bluetooth. The charger is then lowered from the ceiling, and retracted to its original position when charging is completed.” He pinpointed that the installation cost of the ceiling charger is lower than that of wall-mounted models, and there are no restrictions on installation. In addition, there is no risk of ceiling-mounted cables being run over by vehicles, which also means longer lifespan of cables.
Government encouraged to offer rates concession
At the “Charging Facilities in Hong Kong” session of the forum, Dick Seto, Deputy General Manager, Sino Parking Services Ltd, remarked that in view of the rapid growth of EVs in Hong Kong, local car parks need to expand their charging facilities. However, this also poses a number of issues. “One issue is whether a car park has sufficient electricity distribution for additional charging stations. Even if there is sufficient electricity distribution, the question remains whether the monthly tenants and the car park will come to a consensus over electricity distribution. In addition, while it is ideal for the charging stations to be located near the electric switch room, parking space owners may not be willing to swap their spaces.”
Mr Seto mentioned that at present, property developers generally reserve parking spaces for installing EV charging stations in their new developments. He also believed that the government may offer rates concession to encourage car park owners to provide charging facilities in their properties.
The debut Green Transportation Forum is a highlight event of Eco Expo Asia, which is jointly organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. The expo concluded yesterday at AsiaWorld-Expo.
About the HKTDC
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The HKTDC is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and services providers. With more than 40 offices globally, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia. The HKTDC also organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with business opportunities on the mainland and in overseas markets, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels including the media room. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com/aboutus.