Government schemes and policies in many places around the world, including Hong Kong, are encouraging car owners to switch to electric vehicles (EVs). Although these types of cars cannot be classed as “popular” across the Asian region, recent figures show that there are an estimated 11,857 EVs on Hong Kong roads – almost 2 per cent of the city’s more than 621,000 registered vehicles. Electric vehicles are here to stay in Hong Kong – and on the charge As a part of the city’s long-term plan to reduce air pollution caused by emissions from cars, EV adoption in Hong Kong in the coming years is only expected to increase. However, one of the main barriers to growth is the infrastructure to support EV charging. In Hong Kong most EV owners rely on public charging stations which, in many cases, are free to use. As of April 2019, Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department estimates that there were 882 EV charging locations in Hong Kong offering 2,242 individual chargers across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. This currently equates to between four and five vehicles per charging outlet. Hong Kong’s electric vehicle drivers struggle with having too few public charging stations, but home-based EV charging technologies are keeping pace with consumer demand In comparison, the New York borough of Manhattan is home to 1,171 public charging stations, which serve about 2,478 EVs – around two cars per station, without accounting for the number of charging ports that are available at each of these points. While Hong Kong’s EV drivers struggle with having too few public charging stations, home-based EV charging technologies are keeping pace with consumer demand. Switch on to electric vehicles: your A-Z to what BEV, HEV, NEV and REEV all mean It has been the government’s position that EV owners should charge their cars in the workplace or at home, using public chargers only as supplementary facilities. Since current, average-priced EV models can now travel more than 150km (93 miles) on a single charge, the availability of Level 2 EV chargers for the home may help owners to bypass public charging stations for most of their travel needs. What are the 3 levels of EV chargers? While EV charging points can be installed at either residential or commercial locations, default EV home charging kits are categorised as Level 1, or “slow chargers”. Level 1 chargers use standard outlets and may require 40 hours to fully charge a vehicle, at a rate of about 8km of added range per hour. That is not enough power for an overnight charge, especially for someone who drives more than 60km a day. Level 2 chargers, or “medium chargers”, are becoming increasingly accessible for home use. They use the same voltage as major household appliances, such as tumble driers. A Level 2 charger can charge a whole EV battery in as little as eight hours, adding roughly 40km of range per hour. This may be ideal for an overnight charge between commutes. Data collected in April suggests there are 882 EV charging locations in Hong Kong offering 2,242 individual chargers across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories – roughly four to five vehicles per charging outlet Level 3 chargers, or “fast chargers”, are currently available only for commercial use. While Level 3 devices can charge an EV battery in less than two hours in some cases, they have drawbacks. They can be more expensive to use and early EV models have revealed slight reductions in battery range over time after consistently using Level 3 charging. Plugs for Level 3 chargers can also differ based on the make of each EV model. Simple maintenance and safety requirements Level 2 chargers are relatively low cost items to own. Like most home electrical devices, home chargers have simple safety and maintenance requirements – most use a standard EV plug to connect with the vehicle and can be connected permanently or plugged into an existing outlet. They may require one-time installation costs to accommodate the additional voltage required, either through external or internal wiring. Most remaining maintenance and safety concerns are common sense. But experts note that battery temperature may affect charging efficiency, where extremely hot or cold temperatures can reduce the range of electric vehicles quite dramatically. Hot and cold conditions hit range of EVs Climate can be the biggest cause of fluctuations in the range of EVs. Unlike vehicles using fossil fuels, EVs must tap into their core energy to power the vehicle’s internal climate control, or “air conditioning”. Level 2 chargers, or ‘medium chargers’, are becoming increasingly accessible for home use. They use the same voltage as major home appliances and charge a whole EV battery in as little as eight hours Recent data from the American Automobile Association shows that EVs used in temperatures below roughly -7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit) lose 41 per cent of their driving range on average; conversely, EVs lose 17 per cent of their range on average in temperatures higher than 35 degrees Celsius. Drivers accustomed to turning up their air conditioning during a heatwave must take this loss of range into account. EVs with a compromised driving range will require more frequent charging, which may increase the cost of ownership. Extra EV charging stations planned The global EV charging station market is projected to register a compound annual growth rate – the rate of return of an investment over a certain period – of 48.3 per cent in the forecast period of 2019 to 2026. Hong Kong is joining other international cities leading the push for EV infrastructure development with plans to add new charging facilities at suitable on-street parking spaces. EV drivers without access to Level 2 chargers at home may benefit as new infrastructure developments appear, but supplementing public charger use with home charging is likely to remain the best option for all EV owners in future.