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March 26, 2014

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Electric car owners going private

A GROWING number of electric car owners are applying for private charging facilities at their homes in an effort to rid themselves of the constant worry of running out of steam.

Shanghai Power Co said it has received 140 applications for home-based machines, but has so far given the go-ahead for just 30 of them.

Despite the obvious appeal of owning a private power source, having a system installed is not easy, the company said.

First, applicants must own a private parking space. Then they need to get approval from their property manager or neighborhood office to have the equipment installed, it said.

Once that’s sorted, the power company will check to see if the local network and conditions at the site are appropriate for the installation. In many cases they are not, it said.

One of Shanghai Power’s newest customers is a man surnamed Du, who had a private charging facility installed in his garage at his home in downtown Huangpu District.

Du said he bought the system for its convenience. His daily commute to work is a 20 kilometer round trip, which meant he had to charge his car every other day.

With the new machine he can charge the vehicle overnight, and he never has to worry about finding a place to top up in the busy city.

As well as the cost of buying the equipment, Du will receive a monthly bill for the electricity he uses, the company said.

According to the property management office at Haiyue Garden on Luban Road, where Du lives, as long as the parking space is owned by the resident, it is happy to approve applications for private chargers and will supervise the installment of the equipment.

Not all neighborhoods are so accommodating, however, the power company said.

Even if an application is approved by the power supplier, the property manager might still block it, citing safety concerns, the company said.

For electric car owners who want to apply for a private charger, they should visit their nearest Shanghai Power service center with proof of their ownership of both a property and a parking space.

The company will then send someone to carry out a feasibility study within 10 working days, and if everything is approved, the meter — purchased by the car owner — will be installed free of charge within two weeks, it said.

Private charging machines cost from a few thousand to more than 50,000 yuan (US$8,000).

Shanghai has 24 power stations and about 2,000 charging spots, but for many owners of electric cars this is too few.

The government is planning to install a further 4,000 chargers by the end of next year, most of which will be in parking lots, commercial centers and large neighborhoods.

Its aim is to have one charger for every 5 square kilometers in the city’s downtown areas and one for every 10 square kilometers in suburban areas.


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