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China introduces EV vending machines
Kandi builds a giant EV dispenser. Is this the future of urban motoring?
When legislators are seriously considering sucking up smog with a giant vacuum cleaner and give nose filters out to police to ease lung damage, you know the pollution situation’s got pretty serious. Which is precisely what’s happened in China, where air quality in urban areas routinely falls under safety limits set by the World Health Organization.
And cars aren’t helping. 50 per cent of urban particulate matter comes from vehicle emissions, which wouldn’t be such a monumental problem if a) daily car sales didn’t sit above 30,000, and b) current ownership wasn’t at more than 120,000,000. But domestic electric carmaker, Kandi, has come up with a solution significantly less absurd than a giant Hoover: pay-by-the-hour EV rental.
Like a combination of Boris Bikes and those Kit Kat machines you had in sixth form college, this giant EV rental station in Hangzhou allows people to insert their credit card, then out comes one of Kandi’s 120 zero-emissions, Panda-faced cars. Each of which is capable of 75 miles per charge, and costs £1.96 per hour.
The Kandi machine (geddit?) is something the manufacturer plans to grow into a 500-strong network of garages in the next four years. Which sounds ambitious, but the public EV car share program is supported by China’s pledge to introduce 2,000,000 EVs on the road by 2020, an initiative backed by nearly £40bn in subsidies.
Officials also claim that China will reduce its carbon intensity - the fuel burned to make electricity that powers Kandis - and use more natural gas and nuclear power. Though that follows announcements that within the next four years, 160 new coal-fired plants will be opened, adding to the 620 operating now.