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Electric Cars Not the Only Option for Cleaner Air

SCMP – May 15, 2009

I applaud the government’s leading role in introducing electric vehicles (EVs) as a solution to the problem of air pollution. We finally have an alternative to driving polluting vehicles. However, I am sceptical whether they will be an immediate, widespread success.

When it comes to cars, people are brand-conscious. They care more about how the vehicles look and what they cost than they do about the environmental impact. People also tend to switch cars every few years – an issue with EVs, which offer a limited choice of models, and are apparently more expensive than many standard cars. EVs are also a new technology. I imagine many people have worries about the maintenance of the cars, and anticipate a frustrating wait for spare parts.

Our government says it has fought hard to ensure it receives at least a small quota of EVs from the manufacturer every year. This suggests the success of the scheme may be limited. For this reason, the government should consider more viable alternatives, such as allowing drivers to use ethanol-blended fuels.

High ethanol blends achieve much the same mileage as petrol, but are almost pollution-free. No modifications to vehicles are required to use an E50 blend. For higher blends, car owners only need to make a slight adjustment to pistons.

People will not have to make a sacrifice on the look or cost of their vehicles.

David K. H. Lee, Kowloon

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