China has launched a new round of subsidies for alternative energy vehicles such as electric and fuel-cell cars, as the government faces mounting pressure to reduce air pollution.
The government will provide up to 60,000 yuan, or $9,800, toward the purchase of an all-electric passenger vehicle, according to a joint statement by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance.
Conventional hybrid vehicles will not be included in the incentives program reported Bloomberg News. Fuel-cell vehicles powered by hydrogen are included for the first time.
Hybrid models running on a gasoline engine with a backup battery still qualify for lower incentives of 3,000 yuan under a different plan.
The incentives will be targeted at the three regions near city centers Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, areas that have struggled to keep a lid on air pollution. The subsidies aim to boost ownership in electric vehicles, which has lagged in China because of the high cost of ownership as well as a lack of charging stations.
Officials in Beijing—a city that has recorded some of its worst smog levels ever—are considering a policy to impose a congestion fee for cars in the center of the city in 2014, a practice used in London, Milan and Tokyo.
The fee aims to cut levels of particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, known as PM2.5. Though small in size, PM2.5 packs a punch. As pollution, it can spread over a large surface area and is known to carry toxic heavy metals, chemicals and organic pollutants.
Photo of Beijing’s Second Ring Road by Flickr user Pedronet