CLP Group

All systems go - minister to test-drive electric car today

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, 12:00am

Mitsubishi's first soon-to-be mass-produced electric vehicle will hit Hong Kong's streets today, with a senior official driving it through the city's busiest area to promote green transport.

On loan from the Japanese carmaker, the four-seater, powered by a lithium-ion battery, will be used by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah will drive the iMiEV car from his office at Inland Revenue Tower in Wan Chai to the Legislative Council in Central this morning, in the first road test of the vehicle's six-month Hong Kong trial.

The trial, designed to test the car's suitability for Hong Kong's conditions - and the best way to provide an infrastructure of recharging points in the city - will be the first in Asia outside Japan.

Officiating at the trial's launch yesterday, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said he believed the electric car would be successfully adopted in Hong Kong once mass production began.

'This is not merely a process of changing from fuel-based to electric vehicles,' Mr Tsang said after the first meeting of a high-level steering group to promote the green car. 'We are talking about changing the mindset, changing the culture of a city.'

Mr Tsang said the development of electric cars would generate business opportunities. CLP Power has said it will work out a deal with Wilson Parking and The Link Reit next week on providing car park charging points.

Masao Omichi, executive officer of Mitsubishi Motors, said yesterday the firm had been impressed by Hong Kong's green policies of recent years. The carmaker has pledged to earmark part of the first production batch to Hong Kong this year.

The petrol-powered iMiEV sells for HK$140,000, including tax, and the electric car is expected to cost more. The savings will come in fuel: the electric car costs about 15 HK cents per kilometre, versus 90 cents for the petrol model.

With a maximum speed of up to 130km, the car's travelling range is 100km to 160km, depending on whether air-conditioning is used.