WNEVC: Hainan a NEV industry development hotspot

By Li Xiang / HICN / Updated: 20:46,31-August-2022

The World New Energy Vehicle Congress (WNEVC), the most influential annual event held in the field of clean energy vehicles, took place concurrently in China’s capital city of Beijing, and Haikou, the capital city of Hainan Province from last Friday to Sunday. Over 1,500 government officials, business leaders, scholars and researchers from 14 countries and regions across the world attended the meeting, where they shared their views on the future development of the industry. 

A photo taken on August 27 shows the opening ceremony of the 2022 World New Energy Vehicle Congress. [Photo / Organizing Committee of the WNEVC]

Hainan's resonant response to the era of electrification

According to local authorities in Hainan, the number of NEVs running on the island had topped more than 165,000 by the end of July this year, making up 9.2% of the total number of vehicles on Hainan’s roads, placing the province second in terms of percentage of NEV ownership within China. Meanwhile, the construction of charging stations and charging piles for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles — which are now available at most highway service areas and in rural and suburban areas in the province — is coming on apace.

A photo taken on May 6 shows a resident using an NEV charging pile at a charging station in Haikou’s Century Park. [Photo: Li Tianping / Hainan Daily]

Behind Hainan’s encouraging progress is the rolling out nearly 30 related regulations and measures in the areas of infrastructure construction, purchase, traveling, parking as well as after-sales services for new energy vehicles, enabling NEV owners to enjoy a better experience.

Speaking to Hainan Daily, Chen Zhixin, an official of the Hainan New Energy Advisory Committee, said that it is imperative for the international community to adopt green transportation, whether to cope with climate change, or achieve sustainable development. He then added that Hainan has been a frontrunner in this endeavor by setting a clear timetable for industrial development and sticking to it.

According to Chen, Hainan, back in 2019, was the first province in China to propose a ban on the sale of fuel vehicles by 2030, as well as the first island in the world to announce an island-wide development strategy for clean energy vehicles. Earlier this month, the island reiterated its determination to put an end to selling fuel vehicles and develop the clean energy vehicle sector in an action plan to achieve its peak carbon goal.

“Going forward, Hainan should leverage its preferential free trade policies, for example, tax reduction and exemption policies, and policies to facilitate the free flow of specialists and professionals on the island, to further its engagement in international cooperation. The global NEV congress is also a great opportunity for Hainan to fast-track its infusion into the global automotive industry chain,” said Chen Zhixin. 

Hainan, a hotspot for both NEV and IoV industries

Zhang Yongwei, an official of the China EV 100, believes that the promotion of electric vehicles on the island can also spawn new opportunities for the development of the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) industry. For this to work, Zhang said that local authorities should think in big-picture terms and coordinate overall development, with scenic spots and highway networks - especially the island-wide tourism highway - as focal points where practical solutions such as autopilot services can be provided as needed.  

According to Chen Danhong, an official from the Industry & Information Technology Department, so far the province has designated a total of nearly 300 kilometers of various types of roads for testing smart vehicles.

In addition, Hainan has built the only tropical-climate testing spot for smart vehicles in the country. Hainan’s climate, characterized by high temperatures, high humidity, high salinity, and heavy rainfall, can help establish a valuable database to understand the performance of batteries under such weather conditions. The testing spot on the island was later recognized as a national testing base for ICV (Intelligent Connected Vehicles) in June of this year.

A photo taken on August 25 shows self-driving vehicles undergoing testing at the tropical ICV testing base in Hainan. [Photo: Yuan Chen / Hainan Daily]

A promising future for Hainan

“We feel both enlightened and encouraged after hearing the speech given at the congress,” said Xu Jun, general manager of the Global New Energy Vehicle Experience Center project. “Hainan has received worldwide attention since the master plan for the Hainan Free Trade Port was released in June, 2020. My colleagues and I have also made several visits here. Knowing Hainan’s ongoing efforts to develop into a national ecological civilization pilot zone and ban the sale of fuel vehicles by 2030, we see great potential for the island to develop in the industry. And that’s why we finally decided to set up the project in Haikou last year.”

Regarding future plans, Xu said, “As a business focusing on NEV after-sales service, we hope we can learn from other leading companies in the world and establish a high-end international NEV experience center on the island. By doing this we want to play our part in realizing China's goal of peaking carbon emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.”

An artist’s impression of the Global New Energy Vehicle Experience Center

“Statistics show that the penetration rate of new energy commercial vehicles reached 28% in Hainan in the first half of 2022, indicating a large potential market in this area. Also, the shift to replacing traditional fuel commercial vehicles with greener and smarter ones is irreversible and inevitable,” said Chen Lizhong, head of Geely's new energy commercial vehicles project in Hainan. Earlier in June this year, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group signed a strategic agreement with Hainan to strengthen future cooperation in NEV manufacturing and many other areas.

“In particular, Hainan stated that all of the vehicles in public and social service sectors will run on clean energy sources by 2025 in an action plan to achieve its peak carbon goal. This has boosted our confidence in bringing our business to Hainan,” said Chen Lizhong. 

While the government’s efforts have yielded many positive results so far, it also faces many challenges ahead. According to Fan Yimin, secretary general of the provincial Renewable Energy Association, although Hainan has seen progress made in promoting green energy passenger cars, there are still many large vans and trucks running on gas on the island, and the government may need to shift its focus to this area.

“The development of hydrogen vehicles could be a way to tackle the problem,” said Fan, adding that five hydrogen refueling stations have been set up across the province so far.

A photo taken on August 26 shows visitors watching a hydrogen fuel heavy truck during the 2022 World New Energy Vehicle Congress in Beijing. [Photo: Guo Jingyu / Xinhua]

Another official from the Industry & Information Technology Department, Wang Jing, said that Hainan is going to refine its NEV promotion plan in various fields at different stages. “The discussions on the medium- and long-term NEV promotion work held at the congress offered a valuable source for the future policymakers to decide how to better achieve our goals.”

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