Chris Luo:

Retired middle school teacher Zhang Heping has given some serious thought to buying her first car. A Beijing resident aged 61, she has decided she wants an electric one. And she has a good cause – protecting the environment.
 The deal is financially attractive too. To buy an E150 EV model made by the Beijing Automotive Group, she can benefit from a 95,000 yuan (HK$121,000) government subsidy, which is 40 per cent of the original price. She can also apply for a licence plate almost instantly, unlike those pursuing petrol cars who need to first win a lottery, with the odds of winning being just 0.8 per cent, as the Beijing government is limiting the number of cars on the road to rein in the city’s notorious traffic congestion and air pollution.
 But in reality, Zhang soon found herself facing some obstacles.
 “Both the limited travel distance and lack of charging infrastructures are my biggest concerns,” she said in a telephone interview with the South China Morning Post.
 Most electric cars on sales in China are capable of sustaining a travel distance of between 80 and 300 kilometres. But because there are only a small number of public charging stations designed for private car users, the vehicles’ ranges are really just limited to around 100 kilometres from their homes.
 “I will be really glad if distances of electric cars can be enhanced to 400 or 500 kilometres one day, so that at least I can make a round trip from inner city areas to suburban ones,” said Zhang, who has recently bought a new house in a southern Beijing district.
 Peng Pei, a 28-year old public servant at a municipal engineering office who lives in Beijing, says the Tesla Model S is her dream car.
 “Its design looks so cool,” said Peng who was drawn to its innovative design and cutting-edge technology. “It is definitely an embodiment of the future… a running iPad.” she said.