Hong Kong’s short travelling distances and roadside air pollution make it an ideal city for electric vehicles. But while the uptake was impressive under a government subsidy, its easing and a lack of charging infrastructure has meant a dramatic slowdown in sales. Authorities aim to rectify the latter with a scheme to encourage the electrification of parking spaces in private housing estates. While we should be pushing for fewer vehicles on our traffic-choked streets, any effort to spur a switch from polluting petrol and diesel to clean electric has to be lauded. The government will offer HK$2 billion in subsidies to property management companies with the aim of having a quarter of the city’s parking spaces, about 60,000, fitted with chargers in the coming three years. A major complaint of electric car owners is that there is a lack of charging points; at the end of last year, there were 2,166 for about 12,000 vehicles. Being a high-rise city, Hong Kong cannot offer the convenience of recharging batteries at home, as happens elsewhere. As a result, authorities have to find ways to overcome the challenge. Less than 2 per cent of Hong Kong’s private vehicle fleet is electric. Just 30 battery powered public buses are in use, all being trialled. It is a far cry from mainland China, a leader in electric vehicle production and use, and western Europe, where policies are firmly pro-electric. China’s electric vehicle ambitions take centre stage at Shanghai show Chinese car sales have been growing rapidly for years and even with the economic downturn, are still expected to rise by 26.68 million in 2019, down from last year’s figure of 29 million. Of those, about 1.5 million are expected to be electric, an increase of 240,000 on last year. The figure is rising despite the removal of subsidies of up to 60 per cent in June; Beijing wants to improve technological standards in the green car market. China has by far more electric vehicles on the road than any other country, with about 45 per cent of the world’s 5 million at the end of last year. Europe had 24 per cent and the US, 22 per cent. A rising number of nations have set targets to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles; China wants electric and hybrid to account for one-fifth of sales by 2025, South Korea aims for 30 per cent to be electric next year, Germany has set a target of 2050, while France and Britain are looking to 2040. Hong Kong would do well to also set a goal. The contribution of vehicle emissions to the rising temperatures behind climate change is pushing governments towards electric. Diesel buses and delivery vans and trucks are the main cause of Hong Kong’s roadside air pollution and converting fleets to electric would make for healthier, cooler and quieter streets. The government is again heading in the right direction with its latest policy, but more is needed to encourage and entice.