Hainan, an island in China, has been actively promoting the adoption and use of electric vehicles (EVs) as part of its efforts to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.
1. Banning fossil fuel cars by 2030
The Chinese government has designated the province of Hainan as a pilot zone for the development of new energy vehicles, as the region wants to end the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030 and have EVs and hybrids account for 45% of the island’s fleet. Currently, all of Hainan’s taxis and buses are also electric.
The province is well on track, with the second-highest clean-car adoption rate in the country. Last year alone, Hainan sold 42% of clean cars, only behind the affluent financial hub of Shanghai (48%), which has also given hefty incentives to buyers.
“The goal will be achieved for sure,” said Zhang Haotian, a salesman for Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.’s premium EV brand, Zeekr, quoted by the Japan Times. “The Hainan government’s strong support, as well as the island’s size and weather, are perfect in supporting it to grow into a market leader for EV adoption.”
2. Propicious environment
With more than 75,000 charging points, EV owners in urban areas of Hainan are usually no more than 1 kilometer or 2 away from somewhere to power up their cars. The island, roughly the size of Belgium, presents a good environment for EVs to thrive as most of its 10 million inhabitants make only short trips. Additionally, the temperate climate helps prolong battery life, unlike Beijing, where the temperature can often drop below freezing in winter.
3. Government support
Over the past years, China has been investing heavily in the development of EV technologies, manufacturing capabilities, and charging infrastructure. The government’s support, along with incentives and initiatives at the provincial level, has helped accelerate the adoption of EVs in Hainan and throughout China. Beijing views Hainan as a role model to develop the EV industry nationally, and Hainan officials have been invited by other provinces to share the island’s experience.
Hainan resident Chen Yeren told the Japan Times the first time he heard of BYD Co. — now China’s top-selling automaker — was when he was offered a job at a dealership after graduating in 2018. For the first two years, Yeren said, he drove a gasoline-powered car, saying he was hesitant about whether an EV was a safe choice. He finally decided to make the switch in 2020, buying a BYD Han as battery technology had improved to allow longer driving range and more of his friends had also started to look at electric cars.
I don’t think the 2030 goal adds any pressure on residents. Consumers here now just view EVs as a better option when they need a new car.Chen Yeren, Hainan resident
James Chao, chief strategy officer at consultancy IScann Group, commented that achieving a full-electric future for Hainan should be significantly easier compared with other countries: “A key driver of potential success of this program is the fact that the average price of an EV is far lower in China than in the rest of the world,” said Chao, who also heads the consultancy’s automotive division.
“Affordability of EVs has been an issue in Europe and the US, but in China it’s far less of a barrier. This makes the chance of success of Hainan’s sales ban far great even than that of other regions,” he added.