A grey Tesla parks on the pavement in Hong Kong

A grey Tesla illegally parked on the pavement. The government will form a 30-strong team to sell a new HK$2 billion parking subsidy to property owners, creating 60,000 new spaces for such vehicles

The government will hire at least 30 people to push its new HK$2 billion electric vehicle (EV) parking subsidy to property developers and building owners, under the Environment Bureau’s so called “Green Employment Scheme” announced today (22 May).

The 30 new staff will be responsible for “contacting and assisting property management companies, owners’ corporations and owners’ committees to participate in the pilot subsidy scheme,” says an Environment Bureau (ENB) spokesman. Further details, including salary and tenure, are yet to be announced.

The HK$2 billion subsidy, announced last October, will pay developers to switch around 60,000 parking spaces to EV charging spaces. This subsidy comes on top of a lucrative Gross Floor Area (GFA) concession scheme launched in 2011, which allows developers planning concessions if they promised to install EV charging facilities.

Secretary for Environment inspects a rack of switchgear in a car park while a team look on

The Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing (left), visits the car park of an estate to learn from the property management company about the challenges encountered in installing electric vehicle charging facilities (photo: ENB)

But the 2011 scheme was widely abused: in 2018, lawmaker Kenneth Leung raised the issue that hundreds of new buildings had taken advantage of the GFA concessions but had not subsequently connected the EV chargers to the electricity supply.

In response, the government said developers had no obligation to connect charging infrastructure to the electricity supply, claiming there were no “mainstream standards for EV chargers” at the time. Over 490 new buildings (with around 57,000 parking spaces) took advantage of those concessions between April 2011 and March 2019 – the government could not supply figures on how many of those buildings now offer EV charging.

ENB expects a quarter of all private car parks to have EV charging facilities by 2022. Government private car parking subsidies, however, far outweigh its public transport investment: the city’s new electric minibus trial is capped at HK$80 million, for example, just 4% of the private parking scheme. Meanwhile, all electrically driven active mobility devices, such as electric bikes, are considered illegal.

Two petrol cars sit in the "electric vehicle" charging point in  Central Hong Kong car park

While many buildings have subsidised parking spaces for EVs, they are frequently not connected to the electricity supply

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