A BYD electric car charging station in Shenzhen. (File photo/CFP)
Charging equipment for private electric cars in Shenzhen has gone idle due to the small numbers of drivers who own new energy vehicles, while the same equipment for electric buses is in short supply.
Between 2009 and March this year, 6,958 new energy automobiles were recorded in Shenzhen and a total of 3,091 charging equipment stands were constructed, according to the Shanghai-based National Business Daily.
Eight hundred and fifty electric cabs obtained licenses between May 2010 and March this year and 1,200 electric buses were commissioned, while the number of private and official electric cars was said to be more than 1,000 units.
These numbers lag far behind the original targets, however.
Infrastructural facilities, such as charging stations, are critical for the promotion of electric vehicles.
During the initial phase of promotion, the large-scale construction of charging piles was uneconomical because of the small number of electric vehicles in use, however, since facilities along bus routes and parking spots were fixed the utilization rate has been high.
According to public data, 1,100 fast-charging piles were set up at 74 charging stations for buses as of March this year. Despite the large number, the charging equipment for electric buses remains insufficient.
"The charging piles are not built where buses park, but rather buses have to be charged in places where charging piles are built," said an employee from a bus company.
In comparison, charging equipment set up for private electric cars has been underutilized.
Shenzhen power supply authorities stated that their loss in the area of charging for electric vehicles had totaled 13 million yuan (US$2.1 million) a year.
In 2010, the local power supply bureau invested 1 billion yuan (US$160.3 million) to build 89 charging stations and 29,500 charging piles by 2012, with the aim of creating a charging service network covering the city's main roads, residential communities and parking lots.
Only seven charging stations and 2,273 slow-charging piles had been built by the end of 2013, however.
Despite the much slower-than-expected rate of construction, much of the charging equipment has gone unused.
Many charging piles set up in residential communities have gone unused because no electric car owners live in those communities, reported the paper.
The Shenzhen power supply bureau said in a written response that the underuse of charging equipment, especially given the popularization of private electric automobiles, was lower-than-expected.
Asked about whether the construction of new charging equipment would continue in view of the current situation, the bureau did not give a clear answer.