75. In recent years, there have been breakthroughs in the technology for electric vehicles. Automobile manufacturers are actively exploring using new generation batteries to develop electric vehicles with longer travel range that can better satisfy drivers' needs. The door is opening to wider use of such vehicles, which are more energy efficient and emit no exhaust gas. Automobile manufacturers expect that new generation electric vehicles will be put on the market in the coming few years after technical problems such as battery capacity have been solved.
76. Promoting the use of electric vehicles will create additional business opportunities. In 2006, the Government established the Hong Kong Automotive Parts and Accessory Systems R&D Centre. Through the research efforts of local universities, some local companies have started to produce electric vehicles for sale in the UK market. We hope that the industrial sector can grasp this opportunity to develop and produce parts and accessory systems for electric vehicles in collaboration with the Centre. Moreover, the Government will study the feasibility of jointly promoting electric vehicles with manufacturers. We will be actively involved in vehicle tests conducted in Hong Kong with a view to introducing electric vehicles into our market early. We will also consider introducing such vehicles into government fleet when the related technology has matured and the vehicles are available on the market.
77. To further promote the use of electric vehicles, I propose to extend the exemption for electric vehicles from First Registration Tax, which is due to expire on 31 March 2009, for a further five years instead of three years as in the past.
78. Re-charging facilities are crucial for the wider use of electric vehicles. We will examine the feasibility of providing
re-charging facilities in government multi-storey car parks and explore ways of encouraging the business sector, including property developers and private car park operators, to set up such facilities. I will lead a steering committee to study the wider use of electric vehicles in Hong Kong. The committee will carry out in-depth studies and make recommendations from the perspectives of economic development, town planning, industry, technology, environmental protection and transport to take this important first step towards cleaner, more efficient transport technology.