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Firm plans to import 200 electric vans

Peter So, SCMP

The world’s largest manufacturer of electric commercial vehicles plans to introduce 200 to the city next year.

An electrically powered van will be sold for about HK$700,000 and a truck for HK$900,000 – about three times the prices of diesel vehicles.

British-based Smith Electric Vehicles is the third manufacturer to announce plans to bring electric vehicles into the city.

Earlier this year, Japanese carmakers Nissan and Mitsubishi promised to introduce electric vehicles for road tests in Hong Kong.

Smith intends to import vans and trucks with payloads ranging from 3.5 to 12 tonnes. Its minibus can carry up to 17 passengers.

Sales director Kevin Harkin said the vehicle batteries would normally need eight hours for a full charge using home-use power sockets.

Speeds can reach 120km/h and the travelling range is about 160 kilometres, depending on whether air conditioning is used.

Mr Harkin said the city would be ideal for introducing the vehicles because the roads were mostly flat.

He noted that the high price tags and doubts about vehicle performance could make businesses hesitate. But the vehicles could cut costs over about five years because of cheaper fuel and lower maintenance fees, he said.

Smith would first target high- profile businesses, he said.

“The businesses normally buy a small volume to start with,” he said, adding that he expected the vehicles to become widely used after businesses saw savings in operational costs.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in his budget a five-year extension of the registration-tax waiver for electric vehicles, to March 2014.

A government committee has been set up to study problems relating to their introduction.

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